The New York Times on Friday published an op-ed calling for the complete abolition of police forces just one week after Sen. Tom Cotton’s ‘Send the Troops’ piece caused a staff revolt and claimed a senior editor’s resignation.
In a new op-ed titled ‘Yes, We Mean Literally Abolish the Police,’ author Mariame Kaba, an anti-criminalization organizer and director of Project NIA, attempted to clarify what ‘Defund the police’ actually means.
‘We don’t want to just close police departments. We want to make them obsolete,’ wrote Kaba.
The New York Times on Friday published an op-ed titled ‘Yes, We Mean Literally Abolish the Police’ that called for the abolition of police forces
Calls for police reform surged after the death of George Floyd, a 46-year-old African American man who died in police custody on Memorial Day in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Protests against police brutality and systematic racism have sparked a push to defund, disband, and in some cases, dismantle police forces.
Mariame Kaba (pictured) is an anti-criminalization organizer who has fought to dismantle the American prison industrial complex
Kaba argued that police departments cannot simply be reformed, but must be downsized to avoid continued instances of excessive force against African-Americans and other groups.
‘Congressional Democrats want to make it easier to identify and prosecute police misconduct; Joe Biden wants to give police departments,’ wrote Kaba.
‘But efforts to solve police violence through liberal reforms like these have failed for nearly a century. Enough. We can’t reform the police.
‘The only way to diminish police violence is to reduce contact between the public and the police.
This stance comes at direct odds with an op-ed piece published by Arkansas Republican Sen. Tom Cotton, who implored President Trump to use ‘overwhelming show of force’ to disband protests.
Cotton was also criticized for suggesting the use of the Insurrection Act of 1807, which allows the sitting US President to deploy military troops against Americans to reinforce normal law and order.
Last Wednesday, Arkansas Sen, Tom Cotton (pictured) released a controversial op-ed in the New York Times that called on President Trump to used militarized force against protesters
Kaba continued that there was ‘not a single era’ where police were not a ‘force of violence against black people’.
She cited slave patrols of the South in the 1700 and 1800s as past policing, and the quelling of labor rights against the rich in the mid-1800s in the North.
‘So when you see a police officer pressing his knee into a black man’s neck until he dies, that’s the logical result of policing in America,’
‘When a police officer brutalizes a black person, he is doing what he sees as his job.’
Cell phone footage showed George Floyd pleading ‘I can’t breathe’ while white officer Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes before becoming unresponsive.
Floyd later died at a local hospital. Chauvin was charged with his murder four days later after calls to action.
Over the three weeks, thousands flooded American streets for Black Lives Matter protests against systematic racism and police brutality.
Kaba then asserted that police officers, more often than not, are dealing with lower level crimes than the serious felonies that have characterized their jobs and reputation.
She also pushed back against the ‘big myth’ of a police officer’s role to ‘catch the bad guys’ by citing Alex Vitale, the coordinator of the Policing and Social Justice Project at Brooklyn College.
‘The first thing to point out is that police officers don’t do what you think they do,’ wrote Kaba.
George Floyd (pictured) died in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on Memorial Day after a white officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes
Kaba: ‘We can’t simply change their job descriptions to focus on the worst of the worst criminals. That’s not what they are set up to do’
Police forces across the United States have faced increasing criticism for using excessive force against peaceful protesters
‘They spend most of their time responding to noise complaints, issuing parking and traffic citations, and dealing with other noncriminal issues. We’ve been taught to think they “catch the bad guys; they chase the bank robbers; they find the serial killers.
‘The vast majority of police officers make one felony arrest a year. If they make two, they’re cop of the month.’
‘We can’t simply change their job descriptions to focus on the worst of the worst criminals. That’s not what they are set up to do.’
The idea of downsizing police departments has gained support in cities like Minneapolis, Dallas and Los Angeles.
In fact, the Minneapolis City Council voted to fully abolish its police force and replace it with community-led public safety system.
Kaba added: ‘A “safe” world is not one in which the police keep black and other marginalized people in check through threats of arrest, incarceration, violence and death.’
She then called for police staffing budgets to be sliced in half because ‘fewer police officers equals fewer opportunities for them to brutalize and kill people.’
‘We should redirect the billions that now go to police departments toward providing health care, housing, education and good jobs. If we did this, there would be less need for the police in the first place.’
Pictured: Unarmed Washington National Guard soldiers stand guard outside a previously closed Macy’s department store as a protest begins nearby Monday
Pictured: Protesters rally on Tuesday in Mesa, Arizona, demanding police reform amid protests against police brutality
Pictured: LAPD Commander Cory Palka discusses with a protester holding a banner reading ‘Defund and Disarm the police’ in front of Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti’s
She suggested community care workers can administer mental health checks for people who need help as an alternative solution.
Kaba claimed that police ‘break rules all the time,’ citing Derek Chauvin’s record of 17 complaints while with the department.
‘Why on earth would we think the same reforms would work now? We need to change our demands. The surest way of reducing police violence is to reduce the power of the police, by cutting budgets and the number of officer,’ she wrote.
‘But don’t get me wrong. We are not abandoning our communities to violence. We don’t want to just close police departments. We want to make them obsolete.’
The idea of abolishing of police departments, according to Kaba, sounds radical to those who’ve been desensitized to the brutality inflicted on minorities.
‘When people, especially white people, consider a world without the police, they envision a society as violent as our current one, merely without law enforcement — and they shudder’
‘As a society, we have been so indoctrinated with the idea that we solve problems by policing and caging people that many cannot imagine anything other than prisons and the police as solutions to violence and harm.’
She added: ‘When the streets calm and people suggest once again that we hire more black police officers or create more civilian review boards, I hope that we remember all the times those efforts have failed.’
Kaba’s op-ed piece struck a chord with a number of social media users who lauded the piece for its clear cut call-out of the police institution.
The new NYT op-ed has been praised by some for calling to abolish police departments, which have come under increasing criticism
Actor James Woods, whose voiced support for conservative policies, pushed back on the NYT’s op-ed piece on Twitter
Ross: ‘The NYT op-ed would put far more people in danger then Tom Cotton’s NYT op-ed’
But some conservatives blasted the op-ed in a continued pushback against defunding or otherwise disbanding police forces.
Actor James Woods wrote ‘They don’t even bother to pretend anymore,’ in a jab against democrats, despite a number of party members objecting to disband police departments.
Chuck Ross, a reporter for the Daily Caller, claimed Kaba’s op-ed would ‘put far more people in danger then Tom Cotton’s NYT op-ed.’
Cotton’s controversial op-ed angered a large swath of the public for suggesting militarized forces be turned against the very people they’re assigned to protect.
There was also backlash over suggesting that Trump use the Insurrection Act, despite backlash that his response to protest was too heavy-handed and relied far too much on military aid.
‘Throughout our history, presidents have exercised this authority on dozens of occasions to protect law-abiding citizens from disorder,’ Cotton claimed.
‘Nor does it violate the Posse Comitatus Act, which constrains the military’s role in law enforcement but expressly excepts statutes such as the Insurrection Act.’
He called for an ‘overwhelming show of force to disperse, detain and ultimately deter lawbreakers.’
Several staffers at the New York Times blasted their employer for running a ‘fascist’ op-ed that stood at odds with the beliefs of minority workers.
Op-ed contributor and author Roxane Gay declared that the op-ed but black staff at the New York Times in danger.
Op-ed contributor and author Roxane Gay declared that the op-ed but black staff at the New York Times in danger.
Gay continued: ‘As a NYT writer I absolutely stand in opposition to that Tom Cotton “editorial.” We are well served by robust and ideologically diverse public discourse that includes radical, liberal, and conservative voices.
‘This is not that. His piece was inflammatory and endorsing military occupation as if the constitution doesn’t exist.’
James Poniewozik, Chief TV critic at the New York Times, agreed and called it an ‘injury to the newspaper and the colleagues who make me proud every day.
The publication then ran a rebuttal piece by columnist Michelle Goldberg titled ‘Tom Cotton’s Fascist Op-Ed,’ which the senator lambasted on social media.
The Republican senator from Arkansas took to his op-ed on Wednesday to call for the ‘overwhelming show of force to disperse, detain and ultimately deter lawbreakers’
‘I’d like to report an editorial that violates your new policy against publishing editorials that are “contemptuous in tone”‘ Cotton said in a tweet, referring to a leaked remark from Times Publisher A.G. Sulzberger that Cotton’s piece should not have been published.’
In an essay on Thursday, Times Opinion Editor James Bennet defended his decision to run Cotton’s op-ed.
‘Cotton and others in power are advocating the use of the military, and I believe the public would be better equipped to push back if it heard the argument and had the chance to respond to the reasoning,’ Bennet wrote.
‘Readers who might be inclined to oppose Cotton’s position need to be fully aware of it, and reckon with it, if they hope to defeat it.’
Bennet later resigned after continued backlash.
James Bennet (pictured) resigned and his deputy, James Dao, is being reassigned at the newspaper, the Times said Sunday
While the overall topic on abolishing police is hotly contested, some political leaders have already made strides to address the issue.
In Minneapolis, the City Council on Friday unanimously passed a resolution to completely abolish their police force after they determined it was ‘beyond reform.’
According to the resolution, the city council will now begin a year-long process of engaging ‘with every willing community member in Minneapolis’ to come up with a new public safety model.
It added that the process would center on ‘the voices of Black people, American Indian people, people of color, immigrants, victims of harm, and other stakeholders who have been historically marginalized or under-served by our present system’.
‘Together, we will identify what safety looks like for everyone,’ the resolution said.
replace the city’s police department with a community-led public safety system.
The council also commissioned a new work group named the Future of Community Safety Work Group to deliver recommendations by July 24 on how to engage with community stakeholders to transform the public safety system.
It will be made up of staff from the Office of Violence Prevention, the Department of Civil Rights, and the City Coordinator’s Office, in coordination with the 911 Working Group, the Division of Race and Equity, Neighborhood and Community Relations and other relevant departments.
Mayor Jacob Frey was previously booed out of a Black Lives Matter protest for refusing to abolish the police department.
The crowd chanted ‘Go home, Jacob’ and ‘Shame, shame, shame’ as he walked through the crowd of dozens of demonstrators.
Pictured: NYPD officers arrest protesters during a demonstration against the killing of George Floyd
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced that he will seek up to $150million in cuts to be diverted from the police budget.
The money will instead go to African-American community health and education in the area.
The LAPD, which currently has 9,985 officers, has a budget of $1.8billion.
Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York City revealed part of the announced on Monday that he would cut part of the New York Police Department’s $6billion budget amid officer investigations.
The money will be redistributed to youth programs and social services within minority communities.
‘We will be moving funding from the NYPD to youth initiatives and social services. I want people to understand we are committed to shifting resources to ensure the focus is on our young people.,’ said de Blasio, 59, during a press briefing.
‘And I also will affirm that when doing that, we will only do it in a way that we are certain will ensure the city will be safe.’