[VIDEO] Police: Reform? Defund? Abolish?

Should police be reformed, defunded, or abolished?

https://youtu.be/ik2xZEgoReE

I wrote this as a debate between characters with strong/weak points made on both the reform and abolish side. Rather than have a clear winner, I wanted to respond to challenging questions and criticisms.

My own opinion is that we should abolish the police but that genuine abolition is likely not possible in capitalism.

Neither character is right or justified in everything they say and at times even make me cringe (especially the ad hominems), but hopefully both say things that are challenging, thought-provoking, and deepen your perspective on this topic.

This is best watched as a video but the transcript + performance/editing notes are below

[Skype ringing & answering sound. Overtop of Skype logo should have text saying: The information in this video can be verified through the sources listed in the video description.]

LUNA: Hello, Alex.

ALEX: Hi, Luna. How’s it going?

LUNA: Depressing. Every time I see the news, some fucking cop has done another shooting.

ALEX: I know, and when people protest police violence, the police respond with more violence. The fuck?

LUNA: Enough is enough.

ALEX: Right? We need drastic change.

LUNA: Exactly.
/That’s why it’s high time we abolish the police. – What you say?
ALEX: That’s why it’s high time we reform the police. – Wait, what?
Did you say abolish the police?

LUNA: Yeah, I did.

ALEX: Hah, good one. Can you imagine a world without police? [Thought bubble with hellscape; music opening of O Fortuna]

LUNA: Yeah, I can, actually. [Thought bubble with utopian images + happy music]

ALEX: Wait – are you seriously one of those people who think police should be abolished?

LUNA: [Scoffing/ Psssh!] Are you seriously one of those people who think reform is enough?

[Music clip: Dun-dun-DUN! perhaps twice as you cut back and forth between their glaring faces, zoom in for the second cuts]

ALEX: Look, there are tons of examples of police misconduct, but cops do good things, too,
/y’know.
LUNA: Oh god, here we go.

ALEX: I remember a couple years back, police busted a huge international child pornography ring. This took two years of difficult investigation. 296 little kids were rescued from rape and abuse and those responsible were arrested. Those cops are heroes.

LUNA: [Sigh] I feel gratitude to anyone who rescues children from a living nightmare of abuse. So yeah, cops do good things, but their good deeds do not and cannot cancel out the harmful nature of the police as an institution.

ALEX: Ok, so get rid of the harmful stuff, but keep the good stuff.

LUNA: You’re not getting it. Let me try an analogy. So I saw this article in The Guardian about how in Italy, an organization has been giving free food to poor people who lost their jobs because of COVID-19. Sounds good, right?

ALEX: Yep.

LUNA: Well guess who’s doing this: the mafia. And this is just one of many examples from around the world of gangs doing charity work. So if gangs or the mafia do some good deeds does this means they’re good institutions? No! They extort and they kill and they should be abolished, and so should the cops.

ALEX: Ohmigod; that comparison is ridiculous. Cops have a primarily good purpose and some cops deviate from that purpose to cause harm, while the mafia has a harmful purpose and only sometimes deviates from that to do good. It’s completely different.

LUNA: Easy for you to say, you’re white, you’re a woman, so cops have never brutalized you.

ALEX: Whoa, you can’t assume that just based on my race and gender!

LUNA: Well, have cops ever brutalized you?

ALEX: …No…

LUNA: I rest my case.

ALEX: Are you actually that stupid that you think you made a relevant point? I don’t need to have experienced police violence to know it’s a massive problem. But it’s a problem we can solve by reform.

LUNA: [Scoff/Psssh!] Ok so what are these reforms that you think can remove the violence from a violent institution.

ALEX: Well… cops need proper training in how to de-escalate a situation so that violence can be avoided; they need better training in hand-to-hand combat so that when someone resists arrest, they can subdue that person without using a weapon; oh, and of course, body cameras need to be mandatory. We need better accountability, so that police don’t get away with violence and murder, and there are reforms that can achieve that, like independent oversight, ending qualified immunity, and also – and this is a huge one – having special district attorneys who only prosecute police, that way there’s no conflict of interest.

LUNA: Ok, here’s the thing—

ALEX: Wait, there’s more! Hold on, [grabs phone] I’m sending you something.

LUNA: [looks at phone]

[show graphic]

ALEX: This is from the Campaign Zero website; they advocate several ideas for police reform, explain them in detail, and cite research studies [fade to Alex] showing why these reforms make sense.

LUNA: Well, that’s quite an impressive wish-list-to-Santa-Clause you have there, and I’m sorry to break this to you, but even if you get every single reform on your wish list, it still won’t work.

ALEX: What do you mean it won’t work! How the hell do you know? Many of these reforms have never been tried, and they’ve never been tried in combination, so you have no idea.

LUNA: Doesn’t matter if they’ve been tried, I know they’re bound to fail, because police violence
/is more than just—
ALEX: God, you’re so arrogant. You assume police abolition will work, even though it’s never been tried
/and meanwhile,
LUNA: Actually it kinda has.
ALEX: you assume these reforms will fail. You just assume whatever suits your ideology without evidence!

LUNA: No, that’s not – look, you interrupted me, I didn’t finish my point.

ALEX: Ok, sorry. Go ahead.

LUNA: I actually agree with you that these reforms would succeed at reducing how often cops kill and assault people. But police violence is more than just murder and assault. If a family falls behind on their rent or mortgage, the cops evict that family from their home and throw them out on the street, throw all their belongings on the street. Right now, with the economic crisis, 30 to 40 million Americans are at risk of eviction, ok? Even if cops do this in the most nonviolent way possible, making people homeless is still an act of violence.

ALEX: Ok, that’s true,
/but we can’t just—
LUNA: And there’s tons of examples like this. Like the war on drugs, this caused the death of Breonna Taylor, cops bust into her home looking for her allegedly drug-dealing ex-boyfriend and shot her to death in her sleep. But even if cops conduct drug arrests without murdering people, think about what that arrest does to a person. They’re
/put in prison,
ALEX: Yeah, it’s bad, but you can’t
/blame it all
LUNA: and American prisons are so horrendous they’re condemned by human rights groups. And even when prison conditions aren’t that bad, you lose months or years of your life, stolen from you. Plus, if you have a criminal record it’s so hard to get a job; this can ruin your entire life. How many lives have cops destroyed through supposedly peaceful, nonviolent arrest?

ALEX: I agree this is terrible, but you’re blaming the police for things that should be blamed on bad laws. There are laws against things that are basically victimless crimes, and the way our society treats law-breakers is far too punitive, but that’s not the fault of the police. They have no choice but to enforce these shitty laws, that’s their job.

LUNA: Exactly! That’s why the police are beyond redemption.

ALEX: You put too much blame on cops for the wider problem of an unjust legal system.

LUNA: That’s like saying I put too much blame on slave traders for the problem of slavery.

ALEX: Oh, come on, that’s such hyperbole! Slavery? Really? This is what’s wrong with people like you, you exaggerate things beyond
/recognition.
LUNA: It’s no exaggeration. Being in prison is an extreme loss of freedom, and when cops arrest you, they are literally kidnapping you
/and trafficking you down a path that leads to prison.
ALEX: Do you have any idea how you sound to normal, rational people? Comparing cops to slave traders and the mafia! You are so out of touch with reality and common sense it’s embarrassing.
/And the worst part is you’re totally oblivious to how you’re perceived.
LUNA: Cops put people in handcuffs just like slave traders put people in chains. They’re the human traffickers of the prison industrial complex. But this is not something I’d expect a liberal like you to understand.

ALEX: I’m not a liberal! [looks at camera] I’m not any political label. I’m a special snowflake. [puts on sunglasses, freeze frame + electric guitar or rap beat, perhaps brief clip of Alex in sunglasses doing a dance against white wall, overlay snowflakes falling]

LUNA: You’re so naïve you think there’s such thing as a “good cop.” But what is a good cop? The duty of a police officer is to enforce the law, which means a cop can only be as good as the laws they enforce.

ALEX: Yeah, that’s why we – [pauses, removes sunglasses] – we need law reform as well as police reform. We can end the war on drugs, we can end the war on sex workers, we can end all laws against all victimless crimes, and we do this in combination with far-reaching police reform. And that’s a much more realistic goal than abolition.

LUNA: Ok, let’s put this abolition thing aside for a minute. How do you feel about something more moderate, like defunding the police?

ALEX: You think defunding the police is moderate? Is your Overton window so far to the left that “defund the police” seems like centrism to you?

LUNA: [Weary or perhaps laughing good naturedly] Just answer the question.

ALEX: Ok, well – I’m very skeptical about it, because I read a Washington Post article about the city of Vallejo in California, which drastically defunded its police back in 2008.

LUNA: Oh, I heard about this. Um, it’s not a fair
/representation
ALEX: The city was suffering a budget crisis, so to save money they cut their police force nearly in half. You might think that this would cause police violence to be cut in half, too, but no. The police actually started killing more people.

LUNA: Yeah I know, but
/it’s
ALEX: Cops became overworked, not just in hours but by being stretched too thin; fewer officers had to deal with the same amount of crime; many were unable to cope, and so they became more violent.

LUNA: Look, I read the same article as you, but the situation in Vallejo is not what anyone means by defund the police. You don’t just defund the police and that’s the end of it. You take funding from the police and use it to fund other services and support systems. This shrinks the role of the police way down so they’re no longer dealing with things like traffic stops or people having a mental health crisis, cuz now we deal with these problems in other ways. That never happened in Vallejo. If it had, the cops wouldn’t have been overworked cuz they’d have much less work to do.

ALEX: Ehhh, you sure about that? In Vallejo, the cops did reduce their role. Traffic, narcotics, school resource officers, community policing – all these aspects of policing were cut.

LUNA: I doubt if they reduced their role enough, though. Here, [fiddle with phone as if I’m texting] let me text you a graph from the New York Times.

ALEX: [Text sound. Picks up phone and looks at it]

LUNA: [Show graph on screen] It shows the type of work that police typically do. Look at the top of the graph, over one third of what cops do is respond to noncriminal calls. If you add traffic stuff, together that’s half of what cops do. We could have other agencies dealing with most of the things in this graph. Cops should not be the ones responding to people having a mental health crisis. Instead, it should be social workers or psychologists who respond, which by the way, is how they do it in Stockholm – y’know, the city in Sweden?

ALEX: Yeah, I know, I know where Stockholm is.

LUNA: You should cuz you seem to have Stockholm syndrome with the cops.

ALEX: [smiling] Ha ha.

LUNA: [smiling] The point is, cops deal with a ton of non-criminal situations, and that needs to stop.

ALEX: Ok, that covers half of what police do, but what about the other half?

LUNA: Well, see at the bottom, that little tiny green bit? That’s how much of police time is spent dealing with violent crime. Only 4%. This is the only thing we need some sort of armed response to, whether it’s police or some alternative.

ALEX: Uhh, no, there’s other things on this graph that require law enforcement, like property crimes, other crimes…

LUNA: But why do we need cops for that? Or any armed response? We have parking officers to enforce parking law, we have park rangers to enforce… whatever fucking laws they enforce. They’re not cops and they don’t carry weapons. So why not also have something like that for property crime and other nonviolent crime?

ALEX: But parking officers and park rangers only give tickets, they don’t arrest anyone. Property crimes may be nonviolent, but try to arrest someone for it and they could become violent. Making that arrest without a weapon is too dangerous.

LUNA: Maybe, but we just need to move away from this idea that punishment is the solution to crime. A much better approach is restorative justice, and most of all, What we need is crime prevention, and actually, this is a key part of defunding the police, is that we invest more funding in things that prevent crime – like job training, affordable housing, mental health services, education, youth programs.

ALEX: This all seems good in theory. But even if you transfer funding from the police budget to all these other things, will it be enough money? I mean, you’re trying to use funding from one service to fund multiple services. The money will be stretched too thin.

LUNA: I doubt it. Police budgets are extremely high; they take up 20 to 45 percent of discretionary funding in the budgets of major cities. I’m sure it’ll be plenty of money to go around.

ALEX: Maybe. But you don’t know how much all these other programs will cost, so you can’t really say that, can you. But – [exhale, slight nod] I can admit that a lot of this sounds reasonable. I like the idea of reducing the role of the police, and only having them deal with the situations that are violent or dangerous. So, yeah, I think I can support defunding the police

LUNA: Yay!
ALEX: as long as we don’t take it too far.

LUNA: Aww.

ALEX: But abolition? No, that is way too far. Why even consider something so extreme and so risky when we still haven’t given reform an honest try?

LUNA: But we have tried reform.

ALEX: No we haven’t! We’ve tried some reforms, but only a few, and they’ve been implemented poorly. And the most effective reforms are the ones we’ve never tried. I really think that if we have enough of the right reforms in combination, and if these reforms are implemented properly, we can ensure that cops truly and finally live up to their duty to protect and serve.

LUNA: Protect and serve? See, that’s just the problem. You still believe that this is the true role of the police. But what is being protected? Who is being served? Not most people. The role of police is to serve the capitalist class and protect their property. Police serve the wealthy few against the needs of the many, and they protect a political-economic system that is violent, unequal, and unjust. This is not something that can be changed by reform. No matter how nonviolent police become, they enforce a violent system.

ALEX: Bro, like I said, that’s why we need law reform, to make the system nonviolent and fair.

LUNA: You think you can make the system fair? [Face palm] And nonviolent? [One syllable scoff laugh] Laws are written by the ruling class, for the ruling class, in their own interests.

ALEX: I know that’s the [low-toned mocking voice] orthodox position of the left, but it doesn’t quite match up with reality. Laws are written by politicians, and politicians are chosen by the will of the people in democratic elections, and since most people are not capitalists, therefore capitalists don’t have control.

LUNA: That is so naïve! even a liberal like you should know
/better.
ALEX: Not a liberal!

LUNA: Money controls elections and money hires lobbyists, so the richest segments of the capitalist class clearly have the dominant influence. Laws uphold a society where CEOs can be millionaires or billionaires while the workers they employ can barely afford to pay rent in tiny apartments owned by landlords who are also millionaires.

ALEX: But not every law is in capitalist interest. There are laws against murder and rape; I think that’s in everyone’s interests. There are laws protecting property, sure, but it’s not just capitalist property being protected. It’s a statistical fact that most property crimes are not against the rich; in fact poor people are more likely to be victims of property crimes like burglaries and muggings. These laws protect everyone. Or is every single law ever passed all just part of a big capitalist conspiracy?

LUNA: Y’know, it doesn’t matter if every law is purely in capitalist interest; it’s about the law in its totality and whose interests that serves. And the fact is that the law upholds a capitalist system that causes harm on a massive scale, a system that inevitably results in rising inequality, homelessness, joblessness, exploitation, alienation, inadequate healthcare, inadequate
/public services of almost every type
ALEX: I mean, sure, the system is unjust. I agree. And yeah, cops are complicit in that. But if we abolish the police, that’s not gonna abolish the violence of capitalism, and without cops, there will be even more violence as criminals go unchecked.

LUNA: Actually, no, because there are viable alternatives to the police
/that can protect public safety.
ALEX: I mean you do agree, you do agree, don’t you, that at least some laws are good, right? Like laws against violence?

LUNA: Yeah, of course; but if you really care about crime and violence then you need to address it at the root by addressing poverty, inequality, child abuse and other predictors of criminality. If we do this we can prevent crime, rather than just punish it after it’s already occurred. Our communities will be much safer this way.

ALEX: That sounds great, but we still need police.

LUNA: Have you considered that police aren’t the necessity for public safety you think they are?

ALEX: I’ve more than considered it; I’ve researched it, something I doubt you’ve done.

LUNA: Dude, you think I haven’t researched? Well how’s this for research? I have the stats right here. [Pull out phone look at screen  show graph] In the United States, 38% of murders go unsolved, 67% of reported rapes go unsolved, 70% of reported robberies, 86% of both reported burglaries and car thefts go unsolved. What’s the point of police if most crimes go unsolved?

ALEX: What, so the solution is to get rid of police so that all crimes go unsolved?

LUNA: No, it means we need to find better ways to keep ourselves safe.

ALEX: Are you even aware that just by police being present in a neighborhood, that reduces crime?

LUNA: Psssh! that’s what they want you to think, but
/in reality
ALEX: No, this has been studied, ok? The National Bureau of Economic Research published a study on the impact of investigations of police misconduct and found that, in highly publicized cases, police drastically reduced their proactive contact with civilians. So they still answered 911 calls, they still investigated reported crimes, but they didn’t go around investigating suspicious activity, or at least did so much less. Cops just kept their policing to the bare minimum. And you know what the result was? More murder and more crime. All because cops had less presence in neighborhoods.

LUNA: But you can’t draw firm conclusions from a single study – every researcher knows that – because different studies might reach different conclusions, and that’s the case here. I mean, there’s a study in the journal Nature Human Behaviour, and it looked at the New York Police Department slowdown in 2014 and 2015 – this was three months when police only did the bare minimum, kind of like in the study you mentioned, but in this case, the effect was the opposite: a significant drop in violence and major crime.

ALEX: Fine, I guess the jury is out on whether a police presence in neighborhoods deters crime or not; but even in the example you describe, the police were still responding to 911 calls and major crimes. This is very different from abolishing the police. If you want a taste of what that’s like, you need to look at what happened in Brazil. Police in the city of Vitória went on strike for nearly a month in February 2017. And I mean a total strike – they did zero policing, ok? The abolitionist dream come true. Well, guess what, crime absolutely exploded. Local gangs and criminals took full advantage and went on massive crime sprees: violence, carjackings, lootings. 215 people were killed in a city of less than 360,000 over a period of just three weeks. Still think abolishing the police is a good idea?

LUNA: Yes, because what you describe is not the “abolitionist dream”. We don’t just abolish the police and then sit on our ass while life becomes a Mad Max movie, we replace the police with alternative institutions for public safety and address the root causes of crime. I already explained this but you seem determined to forget.
ALEX: I didn’t forget, I’m just skeptical that it’ll be
/enough.
LUNA: Well at a certain point your skepticism becomes stubborn unwillingness to let go of old beliefs. Honestly, if you’re still stanning for the cops
/after all this
ALEX: Whoa! I am not stanning!
LUNA: discussion then it’s only because you’re a privileged white woman.

ALEX: That’s absurd. You obviously have no clue what you’re talking about. Did you know surveys show that most black Americans agree with my position and not yours?

LUNA: Who did the survey, Fox News?

ALEX: Gallup Center on Black Voices did a nationwide survey and guess what? 90% of black people want police reform, but only 22% want to abolish the police.

LUNA: That’s because people don’t understand what police abolition means, and neither do you. You keep strawmanning it
/as just getting rid of the police without changing anything else.
ALEX: And on top of that, and on top of that, excuse me, let me finish, on top of that, only 2 out of 10 black people want less police presence in their neighborhood. 6 out of 10 want the same amount of police presence and 2 out of 10 black people want more police presence! So you can take your “privileged white woman” ad hominem bullshit and shove it right the fuck up your white ass!
[Show Alex slamming laptop shut]

LUNA: Bitch hung up on me! [Sucks teeth, shakes head while looking at audience] What a goddamn bootlicking liberal she is. And yet…
[singing, filmed against plain white background]
[is there auto-tune software online?]
Oh lib-girl, I think love you
Your politics are shit, but there’s something about you
I think I love you
I think I love you
I kind of fuckin’ hate you, kind of wanna date you
And liberate you
Oh lib-girl, I think I love
[stops singing]
to sabotage my happiness by falling for people like you, and I fucking hate myself for it. [Skype ringing] Oh look, you’re calling me back. [answers] Hello.

ALEX: Hey, sorry about that.

LUNA: It’s ok, I’m sorry, too.

ALEX: You wanna keep talking?

LUNA: Yeah, let’s give it another try.

ALEX: Ok, so, decreasing police presence will hurt high crime neighborhoods the most, which by the way are usually poor neighborhoods and black neighborhoods. So tell me, do you really care about black lives or are you just virtue signaling?

LUNA: Oh, nice one, now you sound like the far-right, talking about so-called black-on-black crime!

ALEX: Are you denying that crime rates are worse in black neighborhoods?

LUNA: Well what crime are you talking about? What about tax evasion and wage theft? What about the crime of destroying this fucking planet? Who’s overrepresented in those crimes, huh?

ALEX: Did you know the murder rate for black Americans is eight times higher than for white Americans? Black neighborhoods are more dangerous, that’s a fact.
/And there are
LUNA: That’s exaggerated.
ALEX: various socioeconomic causes – poverty, unemployment, intergenerational trauma and so on, but it’s the way things are. And if there are fewer cops, it’s poor people and black people who will suffer most.

LUNA: Whatever, dude.

ALEX: Easy for you to so flippantly dismiss this when you’re not a black person living in a ghetto, no, you’re white and privileged and can sit back on your privileged white ass theorizing from your armchair. Sitting on your biscuit, never having to risk it. Admit it, you don’t give a shit about people in these communities. You just want to show off how radical and morally righteous you are. It’s fucking pathetic and selfish and cowardly and vain.

LUNA: For the 25th fucking time, there are alternatives to policing that can keep communities safe. Like professionals trained in conflict resolution, de-escalation, mental health crisis intervention. And yes, trained to deal with violence, too.

ALEX: But why would this be different than police who are trained in these things?

LUNA: Here, let me text you something that explains it better than I can. It describes a series of scenarios that police deal with now and explains how they could be dealt with by other means.

ALEX: [looking at phone] Ok, let me read this first one: [show on screen] “You don’t realize but your brake lights aren’t working. Imagine… a city employee signals for you to pull over and says, ‘Hey, how about I replace those lights for you right here so no one gets hurt?’ An hour later, both lights work and you’re at home. Isn’t that public safety?”

LUNA: Sounds good, right?

ALEX: Yeah, that does sound good. K, next one: [show on screen] “You are experiencing intimate partner violence. Imagine… texting a number and a trauma informed crisis intervention specialist meets you in a safe place. An hour later you are working together to make a plan that will help keep you safe long term.” That sounds great, but it’s not addressing the concerns I was raising.

LUNA: Keep reading.

ALEX: “Your friends are intoxicated and fighting but you don’t want them to get in trouble. Imagine… you call 311 and a crisis intervention team comes to your door. 1 hour later, your friends are sleeping it off at home.” Huh.

LUNA: What?

ALEX: I dunno, it’s kinda best case scenario, don’t you think?

LUNA: Well—

ALEX: So two people are drunk and fighting, but what if one of them uses a knife? That’s not the kind of thing you can sleep off. Or what if some drunk agro asshole just randomly attacks someone? Is he sent home for a nap? What if he does it the next night and the next?

LUNA: No, obviously if things got that bad, it would be handled differently.

ALEX: It’s so frustrating when people think social workers and mental health experts can be this miracle cure to replace cops. It’s asking a lot of them to put themselves at risk in these dangerous scenarios. I have friends who are social workers; they don’t want to be breaking up fights or confronting a 6 foot 200 pound man who’s off his meds and aggressively screaming at people on the streets.

LUNA: Of course not every social worker wants to sign up for this type of job. But some will. And they’d have special training to be equipped to handle violence.

ALEX: I agree that mental health experts should be first responders in these situations, but they shouldn’t do it alone, they should have a cop by their side as backup.

LUNA: Mmm, no; but you could pitch that to Hollywood as a cringey buddy-cop odd-couple movie.

ALEX: Ugh, never mind, let’s read the next one. [looks at phone] “Someone seems [show on screen] to be snooping in car windows on your block. Imagine… calling your neighbors who are trained in self-defense and de-escalation and approaching the person. An hour later the conflict is resolved and the person responsible is getting the support they need.” Ok, I’ve read enough.

LUNA: [sigh] What now?

ALEX: [scoffs] What if the suspect runs away? One hour later he comes back and steals a car. Or how ’bout when your neighbors confront him, he panics and shoots someone. One hour later, your neighbor dies of blood loss in the hospital.

LUNA: I admit these situations won’t always go smoothly, but things go wrong with the police, too. It’s not like cops have some magical capacity to deal with this stuff.

ALEX: Not magic, you idiot. It’s called training and guns.

LUNA: Right, and a crisis intervention team can be every bit as well trained as the cops, better trained, actually. And guns? You know there are countries in Europe where cops don’t carry guns?

ALEX: But those countries aren’t full of gun-toting Americans. Those countries don’t have America’s high rate of gun violence. Their cops don’t deal with the same level of danger.

LUNA: Well if we replace police with public safety officers, we could allow some of them to have guns.

ALEX: Now you’ve reinvented the cops! Public safety officers? This is just police by another name. It’s Orwellian doublespeak.

LUNA: No. One is an armed body of the state, the other is an armed body of the people.

ALEX: [face palm] What the fuck does that even mean, bro. It’s just more doublespeak.

LUNA: It’s really not. Here, I’ll give you a real life example from Mexico, in the regions of Costa Chica and la Montaña, about 130 communities have organized the Regional Coordination of Communal Authorities – or CRAC in its Spanish initials.
These communities were suffering high rates of violent crime and police were not doing enough. People got fed up and in 1995 created CRAC, a community defense organization based on indigenous traditions. CRAC has thousands of volunteers, and not only do they confront violent criminals, they’ve also protected their communities from being ravaged by mining companies or by government-sponsored development projects like highways and dams that threatened their local environment and therefore their health and safety. And
/CRAC
ALEX: That sounds great and all, but again, it’s just police by another name.

LUNA: If you let me finish, I’ll explain why that’s not the case. For starters, CRAC volunteers serve the community they live in. But the key thing is that they are chosen and controlled by the community. Each CRAC volunteer is elected in an assembly where all community members can vote.
ALEX: Wow.
LUNA: Each CRAC volunteer can also be fired in a community assembly, by vote. Community assemblies also give direction, input, and guidance to CRAC, basically the community tells CRAC what to do and how to conduct themselves.

ALEX: [Sounding positive, pausing as it sinks in] Hm. This is actually… huh. This does give the community a level of oversight and accountability that I can’t imagine the police ever having, even with the best of reforms.

LUNA: Right? And that’s the key difference between police and a community defense organization. Police are controlled by the state; a community defense organization is controlled by the people. That’s why CRAC has defended against the government’s attempts to build highways and dams in these communities. Because CRAC doesn’t serve the will of the state, it serves the will of the people.

ALEX: Huh. Ok, I can admit that CRAC seems pretty great.

LUNA: Yeah, CRAC is awesome, I think everyone should try CRAC. We need CRAC in every community.

ALEX: [laughs] Uhh, that sounds bad.

LUNA: What are you, a liberal?!
.
ALEX: But seriously. I mean… [sigh]… what you describe definitely has benefits. But I can see it going wrong. Sometimes the will of the people is not so benign.

LUNA: It’s better than the will of the state.

ALEX: Ehhh… sometimes it’s worse.

LUNA: How could it be worse? This is community volunteers guarding their own neighborhood.

ALEX: You mean the way George Zimmerman guarded his neighborhood when he killed Trayvon Martin?

LUNA: [stunned stammer]

ALEX: What, you think that shit won’t happen? You think just cuz they’re not cops they won’t ever be racists or bullies or power tripping sociopaths?

LUNA: It’ll be different; they’ll be chosen by and accountable to the community,
/so
ALEX: And what if that community is full of racists? How many Trayvon Martins will we have then?

LUNA: I mean, yeah, ok, there’ll probably be some cases like this, some, um, unjustified killings, but it’ll be rare.

ALEX: Will it be less rare than the unjustified killings by police?

LUNA: Oh, for sure.

ALEX: How can you be sure?

LUNA: So many reasons. For starters, people tend not to want to shoot their own neighbors.

ALEX: I think what you’re proposing could be great in some communities, or even most communities. But in others it could be a disaster. It all depends on what that community is like. What if a neighborhood is dominated by a gang; that gang would literally become the local police!

LUNA: Ok. Well, what if we have like external oversight, a watch dog organization staffed by people from all over the city whose job it is to ensure that no community defense organization becomes corrupt, whether it’s by gang members or racist vigilantes or anything bad.

ALEX: Yeah, ok, that could work. … Look, I can agree that you propose some good ideas.

LUNA: Good! Finally.

ALEX: But… it’s just not realistic.

LUNA: Not realistic? You liberals are the ones who think that the police can be reformed into something benign. That’s not realistic.

ALEX: That’s actually my point. If the ruling class won’t allow us to reform the police into something benign, why in the hell would they agree to abolish the police?

LUNA: Dude, it wouldn’t be easy, we’d have to pressure them, but with a big enough general strike,
/umm
ALEX: And even if by some miracle you made that happen, won’t it just lead to private police? Corporations, businesses, and rich people would just hire their own private security forces. Which, by the way, would be even less accountable and possibly more violent than the police we have now.

LUNA: Well obviously the ultimate goal is to abolish capitalism, too, so

ALEX: And what about in the meantime? That’s the problem with this abolish the police thing. You literally need a revolution to make it happen. The state is not gonna give away its monopoly on violence, and if you don’t understand that, then you don’t understand the state. You accuse me of being a naïve liberal. Who’s the naïve liberal now?

LUNA: Um, I’d say it’s the person who spent this entire conversation with a cop’s boot halfway down their throat.

ALEX: Bullshit! I’m extremely critical of the cops! I fucking want massive reform! I’ll even consider this defund the police idea.

LUNA: Doesn’t matter. You’re still a pathetic, boot-licking liberal.
/You can criticize all you want, but if you only advocate reform, then you’re enabling the police
ALEX: I don’t identify as a liberal, or any political label!
LUNA: and you’re complicit in their violence. Like it or not, you’re a bootlicker by default. All liberals

(OVERLAP)

ALEX: Why did I think I could have a reasonable conversation with you. You’re not a reasonable person. No wonder the left is such a pathetic, dysfunctional shit-show. Cuz the left is full of people like you. You’re married to your ideas and you’re convinced you’re right about everything. You have beliefs about what should be right and refuse to subject that to the test of critical thinking or empirical evidence. And anyone who asks the hard questions you ignore is labeled a bootlicking liberal, just like you’re saying to me now. That’s why everyone hates the left. Even a lot of leftists hate the left. The reasonable ones do. They’re embarrassed by the left. Cuz the left is a fucking circus. And it’s sad, cuz the left is right about alotta things. But leftists like you are so fucking cringey that you sabotage it. And so maybe humanity is doomed. Because of obnoxious leftist assholes like you.
LUNA: are bootlickers. You hear that?! All liberals are bootlickers! You think you’re so fucking progressive but you liberals are actually more harmful than right-wingers and conservatives, because liberals like you give capitalism a nice shiny mask of respectability and social justice. But of course underneath it’s the same monstrous system. But you liberal fuck-heads make that monstrous system look presentable and decent. You give people false hope that keeps them passive and loyal to a system that is killing them, you fucking liberal bootlicking piece of liberal shit. You liberals are the reason the world is such a dumpster fire, you liberal centrist scum. Liberalism is the sugar sprinkled on the boot that entices people to lick it. And liberals like you have betrayed the left in every single revolution. You either side with counterrevolution or you sit on the sidelines like a fucking coward, because
[no overlap now]
that’s what liberalism is, it’s cowardice, you fucking pathetic liberal fucking coward fucking spineless liberal trash!

ALEX: [breaks into tears]

LUNA: Oh no, oh shit, oh crap, oh fuck.

ALEX: [absurd crying]

LUNA: Are you ok?

ALEX: [absurd crying escalates]

LUNA: Alex… I’m… I’m sorry.

ALEX: [sniff] No you’re noooot. [say like Bo Burnam in Left Brain Right Brain]

LUNA: No, I really am. I went too far.

ALEX: [stops crying enough to talk] I’m sorry, too. It’s not even you that made me cry, Luna. It’s just, this COVID-19 isolation is so hard. I’ve been alone for so long, even before COVID.

LUNA: [compassionate yet sensing lucky break] Oh, have you?

ALEX: And I’ve had a yeast infection for like a month.

LUNA: [awkward/grossed out] Oh, umm…

ALEX: But I think what really upset me is, um, [crying/emotion escalates again] if you’re right about the stuff you were saying, um, about reform not being able to change the violent nature of police, then it just all feels hopeless. Because abolition just seems so impossible achieve. So like if you really believe that’s the only way to make things good, then like, how can you have hope? How can you be happy? How can you even get through each fucking day?

LUNA: Well…
[cut to very rapid montage of clips (the clips are sped up to look like old-movie fast) of Luna drinking heavily, smoking weed, snorting “cocaine”, talking to my doll and bunny / laughing hysterically, smashing myself in the head with bottles, crying hysterically (mascara running) in a pile of beer cans, passed out in them, etc.]
…You just gotta be strong, I guess.

ALEX: I just can’t do it. It’s too bleak. I just want people to be happy.

LUNA: Oh, Alex. We have our differences, but you have such a good heart. Y’know, since we’re confessing our feelings, I have a confession, too: I think I love you.

ALEX: [sorta-still-crying half a second more, then abruptly pulls self together] What?

LUNA: Alex, I love you.

ALEX: I heard you the first time.

LUNA: Oh.

ALEX: I’m sorry, Luna, I just don’t feel that way for you. You’re a nice person, but,
/um
LUNA: It’s ok, I get it, we’re not compatible, our politics are too different.

ALEX: Ehh, I’m ok with that. The only problem is that, it’s, it’s your face.

LUNA: What’s wrong with my face?

ALEX: I dunno, I just, I just don’t like it.

LUNA: Is it my makeup?

ALEX: No there’s just something about it, just something about it, that’s just, ugghhh, ughghgh. Y’know?

LUNA: Umm, ok.

ALEX: I’m sorry, it’s nothing personal. It’s just your face.

LUNA: Yeah, yeah, there’s nothing personal about my face.

ALEX: I’m glad you understand.

LUNA: Ok.

ALEX: Well, this has been a good chat.

LUNA: Yeah, it’s been good. I always like talking to you and I really value our friendship – [muttered/avert eyes] for some reason.

ALEX: I’m glad to hear that. And me too. But, I’ve got to go.

LUNA: Yeah, yeah, me too, I’ve got a ton of stuff I need to do.

ALEX: Always keeping busy.

LUNA: Yeah, you know me.

ALEX: Ok, bye.

LUNA: Bye-bye. [Skype call ends halfway through her bye-bye. She closes laptop and sits there staring off into space as camera focuses in on her. Then she glances at camera and holds audiences eye contact for a second. End.]

Voiceover for Endscreen:
Thanks for watching my video. Alotta credit goes to ContraPoints and her video “Punching Natsees”, which was a huge inspiration for this video. She deleted it, so I can’t tell you to watch it. But if you’re looking for something to watch, why not try one of my other videos, which you can do by clicking here … or here. Also, if you’d like to help me and my channel, please like, subscribe, click the bell to turn on all notifications, and most importantly, please share this video and tell people about my channel. Thank you and have a great day.

Posted By

Lucky Black Cat
Mar 23 2021 06:35

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