Before we directly address the question, it is important to restate some of the basic propositions from the Defund the Police movement, and abolitionism more generally. The first is that it is about presence, not absence. It is focused on building the type of society that does not require heavily armed police and mass imprisonment. For Ruth Wilson Gilmore, for example, it is both a long-term goal and a practical policy program that requires investment in social goods that enable a productive life. ‘It’s obvious that the system won’t disappear overnight … no abolitionist thinks that will be the case’. Reforms are needed, but they need to be reforms that actually change the order. As Patrisse Cullors acknowledges, ‘we need to have a movement around divestment – to divest from police and prisons and surveillance and to use that money to reinvest in the communities that are most directly impacted by poverty and the violence of poverty’. The second proposition which is foundational to answering the question of what is to be done is developing a movement built around alliances. The Defund the Police movement has brought together a range of groups across differing perspectives and with various agendas. While there may be a common view on the need to take resources away from police and to expand and develop community responses to social needs, there is less uniformity on the question of abolitionism – that is whether the police and prisons should be abolished.
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