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From the streets of Chicago to the city council of Seattle, and in the pages of academic journals ranging from the Cardozo Law Review to the Harvard Law Review, left-wing activists are building a case not just to reform policing—which few would argue could use some fixing – but to do away with it altogether.
The chant “abolish the police” has been showing up at many protests that attack the police as a violent and racists organization. But, it is not hyperbole or a figure of speech triggered by angry communities as you might think. One look at the academic and activist literature mentioned above, and you can see that “abolish the police” is not just an inflammatory slogan used to push needed criminal justice reform, but an actual concrete policy goal of the left.
As WND reports, “the abolitionists want to dismantle municipal police departments and see police officers disappearing from the streets.”
Such radical ideas are being taken seriously. According to WND, in Seattle, socialist city council candidate Shaun Scott, who ran on a “police abolition” platform, came within 1,386 votes of winning elected office. During his campaign, he argued that the city must “[disinvest] from the police state” and “build towards a world where nobody is criminalized for being poor.” At a debate hosted by the Seattle Police Officers Guild, Scott blasted “so-called officers” for their “deep and entrenched institutional ties to racism” that produced an “apparatus of overaggressive and racist policing that has emerged to steer many black and brown bodies back into, in essence, a form of slavery.”
Another Seattle police abolitionist, Kirsten Harris-Talley, served briefly as an appointed city councilwoman. Both Scott and Harris-Talley enjoy broad support from the city’s progressive establishment.
Police abolitionists believe that they stand at the vanguard of a new idea, but this strain of thought dates to the eighteenth-century philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau, who believed that stripping away the corruptions of civilization would liberate the goodness of man. What police abolitionists fail to acknowledge is the problem of evil. No matter how many “restorative” programs it administers, even a benevolent centralized state cannot extinguish the risks of illness, violence, and disorder. Contrary to the utopian vision of Rousseau and his intellectual descendants, chaos is not freedom; order is not slavery. In the modern world, civilization cannot be rolled back without dire consequences.
No sane person, conservative or liberal, believes that there are not any problems with policing and criminal justice policies. But, neither would any sane person advocate the elimination of local police entirely and want to live in the “purge-like” anarchy that would ensue.
As a filmmaker, Christopher F. Rufo, producer of the PBS documentary “America Lost,” writes, “Reform the police? Sure. Abolish them? Never.”