Cautions against using word ‘abolition’ in police reform

Published: 4/23/2021 12:35:20 PM As reported in the Gazette, the groups including Northampton Abolition Now, held a “Spring Aboliti...

Published: 4/23/2021 12:35:20 PM

As reported in the Gazette, the groups including Northampton Abolition Now, held a “Spring Abolition Festival” in Pulaski Park this past Sunday, April 18. The organizations’ stated objectives are to reform local police departments by shifting some current police functions to other agencies such as a proposed Department of Community Care.

With the long history of national policing abuses, and especially with more recent examples of police overreach, it is certainly the time to establish reforms to guarantee that police provide public safety while maintaining citizens’ rights.

What I see as a danger, however, is the use of the term “abolition” to advance that cause. Webster’s Dictionary defines the word “Abolish” as, “To do away with, wholly: to annul; to make void.” In this case, to employ this word implies that the group is seeking to do away with the police altogether. Now I , and probably most folks in this liberal-minded locale, realize that Northampton Abolition Now is not calling to eliminate all police, but across the nation, where similar cries of “abolish’ and “defund” are rising, average Americans, liberals and conservatives alike, are being alienated by this terminology.

Right-wing strategists, who are quite adept at manipulating the vocabulary, are seizing on the word “abolish” to paint all would-be reformers as anarchists who would deprive them of the police presence they need to protect them from whatever dangers they can conjure up. We have seen how they have stoked fear of immigrants; giving them another weapon of branding liberals as being anti-police may prove to be politically disastrous for progressive causes.

With razor-thin majorities in both the House and Senate, and with Trump lurking on the sidelines, progressives need to attract supporters, not scare them away. I would urge groups like Northampton Abolition Now to change their names to those that more precisely reflect their reform goals and those of the general public.

Gerard Simonette


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Newsrust - US Top News: Cautions against using word ‘abolition’ in police reform
Cautions against using word ‘abolition’ in police reform
Newsrust - US Top News
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