The Only Solution Is to Defund the Police

The murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor prove what we already knew—police “reform” has failed.

by Alex Vitale

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Read the full article from The Nation, here.

The explosion of protest across the United States in recent days makes clear that the crisis in Minneapolis is a national crisis. It has been almost six years since the murders of Mike Brown and Eric Garner, and little has changed in how poor communities of color are being policed. It’s time to rethink superficial and ineffective procedural police reforms and move to defund the police instead.

In the immediate aftermath of Brown’s and Garner’s murders in Ferguson, Mo., and New York City, the Obama administration responded by calling for more federal investigations and commissioned a report, from the President’s Task Force on 20th Century Policing, that laid out a host of reforms—which I and others criticized at the time. These reforms were rooted in the concept of procedural justice, which argues that if the police enforce the law in a more professional, unbiased, and procedurally proper way, then the public will develop more trust in them and fewer violent confrontations and protests will ensue. This concept ends up taking the form of interventions like implicit bias training, police-community encounter sessions, tweaks to official use-of-force policies, and early warning systems to identify potentially problematic officers.