micah Profile picture
16 Sep, 18 tweets, 4 min read
An idea that's prevalent even among some who call to defund the police is that "defund" means partially defund––that we want the police to stop the "bad policing" of "low level offenses" and instead just focus on "violent crime." But BOTH are anti-Black and counterproductive. 1/
There is nothing we want the police to do except be abolished. there is no good policing, there are no good police functions. The police are not designed to keep people safe. 2/
These were some of the responses to a tweet about not calling to both defund *and* arrest the police — the replies suggest that what we really want to do is end *over*funding of police, or just leave the police to only handle “violent crime.” 3/ ImageImageImage
Please know: the majority of people in state prisons are there for “violent” offenses. We won’t end criminalization by focusing on “nonviolent crime.” “Violent crime” is a term by the state and for the state, individualizing societal harm and obscure its own role in mass harm. 4/
Getting into it––calling for policing of “only” violent crime is still anti-Black. The system is inherently racist. It doesn’t stop being racist once the state charges someone with a crime that falls into a category labeled violent. 5/
(pause - none of this is to say that there are not serious problems of harm, both interpersonal and systemic. But that the system does not, and is not even designed to, stop harm—but rather perpetuates it.) 6/
But calling for the police to *only* police “violent crime” simply reinforces the idea that policing is bad ONLY WHEN it impacts people who don't “deserve” to be policed––but that we should absolutely send the police after the (racialized) “violent criminal.” 7/
Framing policing of “low level” offenses as an illegitimate form of policing while allowing policing of “violent crime” as a good or more legitimate form of policing gets is counterproductive. Again, these are state terms. 8/
The idea that there is some policing with the "right" goals, and some policing with the "wrong" goals––or policing with the right targets (“violent criminals”) and policing with the wrong targets (innocent bystanders/“low level offenders”) is fully counterproductive. Why? 9/
Because this just concedes to the vocabulary of broken windows policing, while disagreeing with the strategy—it’s saying there are big, bad things we need the *police* to stop, but we’ll just find a way for them to do so that doesn’t involve low-level/broken windows policing. 10/
This, despite NO EVIDENCE that the police are able to prevent serious harm or interested in preventing serious harm, and MUCH EVIDENCE that they cause serious harm. 11/
Treating non serious vs. serious or nonviolent vs. violent as easily, self-evidently distinguishable rather than pointing out that what's considered "serious crime" is itself a political construct is where we get tough on violent crime politics!!! 12/
I’ve written several threads (and an entire thesis) on how we’re in the era of tough-on-violent-crime politics, which shifts and hardens the line of “acceptable” criminalization and reinforces anti-Blackness in the name of its undoing. Here’s one 13/
Here’s a piece on why using the violent/nonviolent dichotomy is trash. 14 medium.com/@micahherskind…
And here’s a thread on why using anything the state says about crime/crime rates is trash. 15/
all this to say––defund means defund. if you want to keep calling for "defund until it's 'only' violent crime" (as if that's even possible??), that's fine, but just know the implications. all policing is racist. 16/
also, I want to acknowledge that in a system that has never produced justice, it's hard to envision justice and it makes sense that people would latch onto what we've been told our whole lives constitutes justice. This is really hard. It's been hard for me as I've learned. 17/
but I also want us to be aware of the implications of our words and demands. The pivot to focusing on "violent crime" will never bring justice.

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More from @micahherskind

6 Aug
Seeing lots of talk of crime rates going around, so a short-ish thread on crime vs. harm and the violence of crime rates as our indicator of social wellbeing. 1/
Crime rates measure a very specific set of acts, as reported by the police. Many of those acts are harmful. But they’re often reported & interpreted as representing the level of societal harm/wellbeing––as if high crime rates mean things are bad, and low rates mean good. 2/
But crime rates, and crime as a legal category, are hyper-individualizing, focusing on a subset of acts that (generally) one human does to another. Crime rates completely erase state harm. 3/
Read 11 tweets
29 Jun
"abolition isn't pragmatic"

we've been trying reform for decades (and really, centuries). and look where we are. i’m not sure what your definition of pragmatic is, but history tells us it’s not working.
“we need to reorient the system toward rehabilitation”

rehabilitation has always been a stated aim of the punishment system. accounts of the system that paint rehabilitation and punishment as opposing forces are inaccurate and ahistorical.
“abolition won’t work”

what about our system is working right now? if police and prisons kept us safe, everyone would be incredibly safe right now, considering we have the biggest system in the world.
Read 7 tweets
26 Jun
Mia Mingus on handling the "small things":

"If we cannot handle the small things between us, how will we be able to handle the big things? Learning how to address these smaller hurts or breaks in trust, can help us learn the basic skills we need to address larger harms..." 1/
"...It can also help to reduce and prevent larger forms of harm and violence (e.g. hurt becoming conflict, conflict becoming harm, harm becoming violence)..." 2/
"...For example, if you cannot have a direct conversation with your friend about how they hurt your feelings or the toxic language your roommate used, then how will you be able to respond effectively to sexual violence or abuse in your community or family?" 3/
Read 5 tweets
8 Jun
Everyone who asks abolitionists "but what about murder" seems to think they're the first one to ask that question.
...and then never want to hear the answer that our existing system murders people and shortens lives every single day, or that prisons and police are actually primary perpetrators of murder and sexual violence and more.
(and this is not *the* answer––people are putting forward ways to prevent, respond to, and heal from harm all the time. it's just *an* important answer/reframing)
Read 4 tweets
3 Jun
As more and more people step into abolition, please don't let it be watered down. I think one of the most important things for people to understand is the concept of non-reformist reform, explained by many abolitionist organizers/thinkers. Some resources:
The Worrying State of the Anti-Prison Movement by Ruth Wilson Gilmore socialjusticejournal.org/the-worrying-s…
Read 9 tweets
2 Jun
liberals have learned to call racism "systemic" but then suggest exclusively non-systemic fixes like police trainings as solutions
like is it systemic or is it not systemic because calling it the former and then treating it like the latter gets us fucking nowhere
truly experts at making words mean nothing
Read 5 tweets

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