The New York Times has run an opinion column by Mariame Kaba denouncing efforts by Democratic leaders and the media to try to spin the call for defunding the police as just a reallocation of funds and a new set of priorities and a new structure for policing. Kaba wrote “Yes, we mean literally abolish the police.” That opinion piece follows a warning by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., that Democrats and others trying to “repackage” the push to “Defund the Police” Notably, while the New York Times apologized for publishing an opinion piece by a ranking U.S. Senator on the use of federal troops to quell rioting, it has now problem with publishing a column calling for the abolishment of police. As discussed earlier, this is a movement that is moving rapidly to the left and repackaging is now considered counter-revolutionary.
Kaba states what people in the streets has been saying (including rallies chanting “no more cops”) even as some in the media has mocked those who claimed that “defund the police” could actually mean defunding the police or that “dismantle the police” could actually means dismantling the police. Indeed, recently Minneapolis City Council President Lisa Bender told CNN’s Alisyn Camerota that people who are concerned about their personal safety after defunding police are simply speaking “from a place of privilege.”
Kaba rejects “liberal reforms” from congressional Democrats and Joe Biden including calls for cracking down on police misconduct or ordering reforms: “Enough. We can’t reform the police. The only way to diminish police violence is to reduce contact between the public and the police.” She states that police have always been a “force of violence against black people” dating back to slavery. At a minimum, Kaba wants police cut “in half” because “fewer police officers equals fewer opportunities for them to brutalize and kill people.” For this reason, Kaba explains “We don’t want to just close police departments. We want to make them obsolete.”
She is not alone in this backlash. Seattle Council Member and Socialist Kshama Sawant just called for people “to fight against the reactionary agenda.”She has attacked the “Democratic establishment.”
“At the same time we have to hold the establishments in various cities accountable. This violence against the peaceful protest movement on Capitol Hill was carried out by Mayor Jenny Durkan. And that’s why it’s no surprise that tens of thousands of people in Seattle are calling for her resignation because they reject police violence, they reject police brutality and we want a society that is based on equality and cooperation
….as far as things going awry, I can tell you the only thing that went awry day after day after day since the first protest on May 30th was the police under orders by the Democratic Party establishment and the Mayor Durkan, it was the police making things going awry.”
The disconnect is widening between what actual activists are saying and what the media is reporting and Democratic leaders are hearing. For example, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Bottoms assured people that the slogan is simply a “simplified message. . . but I think the overarching thing is that people want to see a reallocation of resources into community development and alternatives to just criminalizing.” That sounds a bit different from “no more cops” and demands to “dismantle the police” heard in these rallies:
As discussed earlier, Democratic leaders have been trying to tap into the energy and numbers of the antifascist movement for years despite its anti-free speech and sometimes violent record. It is now struggling to control this careening movement by simply refashioning its demands in a more a new image. The establishment is dealing with another sharp disconnect. While the media has attempted to re-make the movement to defund into a more mainstream image, polls show 64% of the public oppose the call. It is a dangerous pivot to make in the middle mad rush to the extremes. This is why, during the French Revolution, the journalist Jacques Mallet Pan warned, “Like Saturn, the revolution devours its children.”