One way we can make prisons and police obsolete is by simply not calling the police in the first place, and to do that we must understand what other resources we can tap into within ourselves, our neighbors, and our larger community. This is why we put together this webinar, 'What To Do Instead of Calling the Police: Building Community Empowerment.' We hope that viewers feel empowered to build and utilize their own skills and support networks, rather than provide alternative call lists that rely on other 'experts', which oftentimes work with or are just as harmful as the police. If you missed the webinar, you can view it and find more resources within this post.
As the city participates in their “zero-budget” exercise to build the police department from the ground up, the city council and mayor should seriously consider eliminating the K-9 unit from the Salt Lake City Police Department. Attempts to reform this program will only end in more violence. City leaders, including Chief Brown and Mayor Mendenhall, were unaware of the attack on Ryans because the supervising lieutenant never reported it to upper management, as required by policy (this lieutenant has since retired with full benefits). If departments choose to ignore policies without consequence or accountability, how will any policy changes protect citizens? A full evaluation of the K-9 unit clearly shows a need for abolition, not reform.
The significance and impact of Black radical thinkers and writers cannot be understated. As we honor traditions of Black Radicalism this Black August, we turn to some of these revolutionary thinkers to inform our understanding of the world and of leftist organizing. Their words, still relevant today, call upon us to continue the centuries-long tradition of radical and decolonial organizing efforts. We hope this list can make revolutionary writings accessible, and can help us to incorporate the Black radicals who have led us to this point—and who will lead us forward—into our abolitionist, anti-imperialist, and anticapitalist struggles.
While Utah’s attitudes toward the incarceration of drug offenders has changed over time, there could also be continuity in who the dominant Utahn community considers to be dangerous. When “our kids” are experimenting with drugs, it is a bit of harmless fun; possession in that case should carry lenient penalties. But when a “Mexican criminal gang” is engaged in trafficking, we see incarceration as a necessary punishment to keep them off the streets. Because of the history of racism in the War of Drugs, we should maintain a healthy skepticism toward the ways in which law enforcement tries to characterize drug users.