Policing formed out of two original purposes: slave catchers and union busters.
We cannot reform this. You cannot fix what is operating as intended. We must break the system!
Imagine if we prioritized the community instead of policing? What would happen? Here's some studies, both internal and external:
What about murderers and rapists? This is a legitimate concern! The Restorative Justice Coalition is led by survivors of all sorts of horrific violence. Yet, all of these acts of violence happened while policing was still an active institution. We can't promise we know all the answers or all the solutions but we do know this: Florida Department of Law Enforcement's own statistics show that police departments in our area only clear (charge/arrest) less than 40% of offenders in cases of violent crime, which includes murder, rape, larceny, and even grand theft auto. With a record like that, you must ask yourself, why is Hillsborough County and the City of Tampa giving them so much of our money?! It's almost like they're not actually there for public safety.
The Restorative Justice Coalition is a proud partner and founding member of The People's Safety Coalition. In this work, we aim to defund the police and refund the community. This may sound scary and that is okay! However, all important changes in society sounded like the sky would fall: gay marriage, women voting, the end of slavery and Jim Crow, etc. The fact is: if maintaining oppression is holding up "the sky", it's time for "the sky" to fall on down! None of us can be free until truly all of us are free!
Contact your elected leaders. Do not wait for instructions or for the right moment. Contact them as often as you can. Personalize your email. CALL when you can (it gets their attention). Attend each City Council and County Commission meeting that you can! Here's a sample script: My name is (name) and I am calling on you to defund the police and refund the community. I want to see more money go into Black businesses, anti-gentrification measures, housing, public child care and health care, community gardens and other areas that will be more effective for developing community growth instead of policing. I am also calling on an end to broken windows policing and demanding our city leaders prioritize community growth, not punishing the poor."
Still not convinced? Have concerns and need to sort it out? We can offer you a non-judgmental, non-cancel, non-call out space for you to discuss these concerns with a frank, firm, but respectful dialogue. Reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule!
Our friend ErrDaisha Floyd does a ton of abolition and mutual aid work in our community. Listen to what she has to say about the George Floyd tragedy, which was preventable.
Other organizations to get involved with:
The Restorative Justice Coalition is proud to have co-produced and co-wrote the first episode of City Council Watch. Watch the 2020 recap!