Abolish Policing, Not Just the Police

July 3, 2020 @ 12:00 am – 1:30 am
Haymarket Books
Transcript here: https://www.haymarketbooks.org/blogs/184-abolish-policing-not-just-the-police

A discussion on abolishing the police and policing with Mariame Kaba, Maya Schenwar, and Victoria Law.

This event is sponsored by Haymarket Books, Truthout and New Press. As independent presses every dollar we take in goes directly to support our project of publishing books and articles for changing the world—a project has never been more necessary or more urgent. We need your help to continue to do the work.

While all of our events are freely available, we ask that those who are able make a solidarity donation in support of our continuing to do this important work.

Register through Eventbrite to receive a link to the video conference on the day of the event. This event will also be recorded.


Recent Black Lives Matter protests have already gained some significant victories, reaching further toward abolition than many may have thought possible in this lifetime.

As we stand on the precipice of so much potential change, there’s an understandable impulse to reach for “replacements” — institutions to fill in for police and prisons. Yet we can’t simply call for social workers to replace police.

As we fight to defund or abolish police and imprisonment, we need to be wary of ways that strengthen other forms of surveillance and control. Drug courts, mandatory psychiatric treatment, and sex worker “rescue” programs might seem like better alternatives to our current system but they still disproportionately target Black, Brown and marginalized people, keeping them under coercive systems. Meanwhile, social workers, teachers and medical professionals–while vital to a flourishing society–can’t be called upon to simply “replace” police, thus drafting them into roles of surveillance and punishment. We must also beware of the ways in which “community”-based forms of policing, including neighborhood watch programs and the expansion of the child welfare system’s mandated reporting, replicate many of the same oppressive dynamics as traditional policing.

A just society will not be achieved until we stop looking for ways to make policing and prisons more humane and focus on building the society we actually want to live in.

Join abolitionist organizer Mariame Kaba and journalists Maya Schenwar and Victoria Law, authors of the forthcoming book Prison By Any Other Name for a discussion of the urgent need to use this moment for transformative change.