Below are some definitions so you understand how we see and interpret policing, defunding, and abolition.
- Policing: When people hear the term policing, their minds usually go directly to law enforcement. Currently, there are roughly 15,400 local law enforcement departments in the United States. While the LAPD’s motto “protect and serve” comes to mind when people think of law enforcement, most law enforcement departments exist to do as their name suggests: enforce laws. Historically, an argument can be made that the main priority of law enforcement is to protect property. We use the term policing in the context of defunding to make its broader role within the criminal legal system (which also includes prosecutors, courts, juvenile justice systems, surveillance, and correctional agencies such as prisons and probation and parole departments) more clear. While our work is currently centered around the defunding of particular law enforcement departments, we are aware that policing mentality extends far wider than that. We invite you to interact with the resource tab to find more context of what policing means.
- Defunding: In the context of police defunding, this word means the reallocation of funds from policing-based models to transformative systems of accountability, safety, and care. Many local elected officials are re-defining and co-opting this word to mean only the halt of new funding. However, in communities that have been working to fund things like housing, mental health, public health, education, harm reduction, etc, defunding means both stopping new funding AND divesting from existing police funding. Defunding also means challenging the idea that the police are the only ones who can provide public safety. Given that policing mentality (one that is punitive, shames, and is rooted in scarcity) can be and has been used in physical and mental health, housing, and many other areas as a means of punishment and control, it is important that solutions are approached from a mutual and collective care framework. Defunding the police does not mean getting rid of all ways of accountability when harm is committed, but it does mean driving funds from enforcement to community-based approaches of restorative and transformative justice that get to the root of harm and asks the whys and not just the whats. Given the power of law enforcement through unions and other political strongholds, we can only imagine safety outside of existing police and prison structures. Defunding and divestment are a crucial step toward dismantling and abolition.
- Abolition (for more info visit Resources Menu)
- “The total dismantling of prison and policing while building up community services”. -Mariame Kaba
- “Abolition is about presence, not absence. It’s about building life-affirming institutions.” Dr. Ruth Gilmore
- Please note that most info on this page came from crowdsourcing and is a mere adaptation for the communities we work with in Austin and across Texas, most of whom are currently or formerly incarcerated (through both the criminal legal and immigration systems) or undocumented. We uplift Mariame Kaba, Angela Davis, Paula Rojas, Berta Caceres, INCITE!, Critical Resistance, Black Sovereign Nation, and other Black and Indigenous women of color leading the way toward abolition for generations.