“I often ask myself whether it is logical to expect the police to play a role they were never meant to play. Policing in the U.S. was created for no other reason than to maintain social classes and enforce racial hierarchy. In truth, the criminal justice system is not broken; it is functioning exactly as it was intended to. And this is why we say Black Lives Matter: to challenge the hegemony in the U.S. that never thought so to begin with.” Jackie Iyamah Ella Baker Center
Reread it. Abolition.
Read it again, but say it out loud. Abolition.
There is no other logical or informed choice. Abolition.
When we stop fearing each other and start ending state violence. Abolition.
Modern policing began in the south as slave patrols. I’ve heard that fact a thousand times, seen it on dozens of signs, even made a few signs of my own—but the true implication of that history is growing deeper in me every day. With every video of Black bodies being brutalized, with every arrest of people experiencing homelessness, with every instance of trauma at the hands or mouth of a local law enforcement officer, I am more and more confident that there is no way to reform a system that continues to perform the basic tenets of its genocidal inception.
What do police do? They catch, then nullify, and finally imprison or kill.
To expand on that, they chase down community members who they believe to be lawbreaking, often by any means necessary, and wholly disempower them by removing them from their family and placing them in a cell. In doing so, they suppress the person’s ability to thrive, create, or organize in their own community. Adding in the racial consequences of this behavior, we are left with a state sanctioned organization whose primary focus is to prevent Black, Indigenous, and Brown people from making any decisions outside of a white supremacist system that was created to oppress them. Let’s be truthful, most lawbreaking is property or policy crime, not violent crime. They don’t spend their time saving folks—they spend their time apprehending people who experience high levels of poverty and oppression.
But what about violence? What about violent crime? What about my neighbor who neglects their kids? What then?
I think the real question is: What now? What is the ratio between when the police have helped in these situations and when they have further traumatized the victims? The fact that the victim plays such a small role in our criminal justice system is paramount. We are so focused on punishing the offender, we completely ignore the multiple needs of person who experienced abuse in the first place. When has the police ever treated Black communities as if they mattered? When have the police ever responded to Black victims in a supportive and humane way?
We need a transformation from a system that chooses who it punishes—we all remember Brock Turner—to system that uplifts and heals the victim while restoring the humanity of the offender. The Black Youth Project recently published a case study of community accountability after one of their leaders was accused of sexual harm. The focus was on the woman who experienced the harm and her support team led both the decision making of the group and the actions of the offender. They didn’t call the police.
Locally, our law enforcement departments have proven that they are not safe institutions to call. Sacramento PD has murdered two unhoused Black men experiencing mental health issues in the span of three months. Neither had a firearm and weren’t close enough to officers to do any harm. They illegally detained, terrorized, and killed Dazion Flenaugh on April 8th 2016. Barely 90 days later they did the same thing to Joseph Mann. In recently released video, the officers who emptied 14 bullets into Joseph’s body can be seen trying to hit him with their car, laugh about it, and conspire to commit murder.
This past weekend Sac PD responded to a civilian shooting outside of a club. Two Black men were shot and in desperate need of assistance, but when police arrived they didn’t begin life-saving measures; instead, they began questioning witnesses and taking statements. Bystanders provided the initial medical care. Paramedics didn’t arrive until more than a half-an-hour later. One man died, and another is in critical condition. This is state violence. This is trauma. There are healthier solutions for marginalized communities.
Appallingly, our Sacramento Sherriff’s Department is even worse. Sheriff Scott Jones is a racist, sexual-harassment-apologizing, Donald-Trump-loving, illegally surveilling, criminal—who wants to bring ICE to Sacramento and imprison undocumented folks. He refuses all transparency and won’t even provide a police report or autopsy report to the mother of Adriene Ludd who was killed by his officers almost a year ago on October 22nd 2015.
Abolition. The road out of white supremacist institutions will be a long and hard fight. We start with community oversight to current structures of state violence. We move toward the divestment of funds and power from law enforcement and a redirection of those funds to community led programs. We end up with community collectives that actually serve and protect their people. We have nothing to lose. Nothing but the chains that continue to be wrapped around Black liberation. Stop calling police. Here are some resources.
UPCOMING BLM SACRAMENTO EVENTS
Thursday October 13th: City Council (915 I Street 5:30pm)
We need you to come through! If abolition is the goal, harm-reduction is what will get folks there alive.
A SPECIAL MEETING WITH CITY COUNCIL MEMBERS
YOUR ATTENDANCE IS CRUCIAL
Timeline of events:
11/23/15 - We went to commission meeting.
1/11/16 - We went to commission meeting.
2/8/16 - We went to commission meeting.
3/14/16 - We went to commission meeting.
4/11/16 - Went to commission meeting - Mobilized the community to come out and speak to the Murder of Dazion Fleanugh 4/8/16. Commission cancelled meeting.
4/18/16 - Met w/Office of Accountability and Public Safety's Francine Tourner - Discussed the details of Dazion Flenaughs unlawful detainment and murder.
4/21/16 - We went to commission meeting - Mobilized the community to come out - Made Demands of the commission.
5/9/16 - We went to commission meeting - Mobilized the community to come out - Checked on production of demands - No update presented by commission.
6/3/16 - Met with Commission Member Roslyn - Wants to know the needs of Black Lives Matter Sacramento in relation to the commission and changes.
7/6/16 - Went to Transparency Ad hoc Committee Meeting Mobilized the community to come out.
7/18/16 - Met with Diversity Ad hoc - Discussed the requests of Black community with police oversight.
8/8/16 - We went to commission meeting - Mobilized the community to come out - Gave Asks to recommend to City Council.
8/24/16 - Diversity Ad hoc Meeting - Mobilized the community to come out.
9/12/16 - We went to commission meeting - Mobilized the community to come out - Recommendations were presented by commission excluding every single ask that the community brought to them, including the outlines of commissions in other cities.
9/13/16 - Presented coalition of BLMSAC, SacACT, and LEAD at City Council meeting - Community showed up - Abundance of testimony.
9/23/16 - Drove to Berkeley with SacACT, LEAD, Council member Carr, Representative from Kevin McCarty's office, representative from Mayor Johnson's office, Representative from Member Jennings and Member Warren's office. Met with the Community Commission in Berkeley to learn about their structure and powers.
9/27/16 - Member Carr presents policy that promotes goodwill of police but implements no change and creates no accountability.
And here we are...
More recommendations to come from members of the Council and we need to INSIST THAT OUR COMMISSION:
- Has the power to INVESTIGATE initiated by civilian or by commission
- Has the power to CREATE AND CHANGE POLICY
- Has the power to SUBPEONA INFORMATION, WITNESSES AND INVOLVED PARTIES
- Has the power to take citizen COMPLAINTS
- Has NO MEMBERS that are affiliated with POLICE
- has INVESTIGATIVE STAFF THAT IS TRAINED
- has the power to FIRE POLICE OFFICERS
They think it’s a game
They think it’s a joke
We are NOT playing.
Come out and make it happen with us.
This fight won’t be quick but it will be!
Saturday October 22nd: Black Love Block Party! (McClatchy Park 1-6pm)
Black Lives Matter Sacramento is going to have a huge celebration in the park to close out the summer!
TWO REALLY IMPORTANT REASONS FOR THIS ACTION ON THIS DATE
1st -- ADRIENE LUDD
October 22, 2015 - Adriene Ludd was murdered by Sacramento Sheriff deputies.
ON THE DAY OF THIS EVENT, IT WILL BE ONE YEAR THAT THE LUDD FAMILY HAS NOT RECEIVED INFORMATION ABOUT THEIR LOVED ONES DEATH, OR JUSTICE AGAINST THE SACRAMENTO SHERIFF.
We are continuing the fight for justice for Adriene Ludd!
We are fighting to make sure Scott Jones does not get elected to congress!
We are fighting to make sure Scott jones does not get re-elected as Sheriff!
2nd -- SAVING BLACK COMMUNITIES
Oak park has been being gentrified for almost a decade now.
We have been fighting for the long-time residents of color to have a voice in decisions made in their community.
We went door to door and asked the people questions on their experiences.
We will be bringing the answers to you on this day.
We will also explain to the community what we will be doing with that information to fight for change.
THIS EVENT IS IN CELEBRATION OF BLACK LOVE
We will be filling this space with Black Love and good energy!
Our DJ will be Oak Park's finest, DJ ONEGONE!
We will have free BBQ, food, and drinks being served! (first come first serve)
We will have a dance floor for you to get your groove on!
...and so many more things to do and see!
All you have to do is come as you are, and bring a friend!
Let's go into the fall with Black Love and Solidarity!
Let's start the healing!
THIS IS A FAMILY FRIENDLY EVENT!