Jun 12, 2020 | editorial

Abolish the Police

These last couple of weeks have been dominated by news of the worldwide protests against police violence and anti-Black systemic racism, kicked off by the vile murder of George Floyd at the hands of some thugs in a uniform. Fireside has an explicit antifascist mandate, and we understand that the police is a tool of fascism — we’re staunch police abolitionists around here. The only good cop is a retired cop, and the only place where police departments should be featured is in history books, as a cautionary tale.

But “Abolish the police!” can be a scary and confusing rallying cry to those who aren’t aware of the police abolitionist movement or of alternative methods for restorative justice. Police forces are such an entrenched part of our society that it’s genuinely difficult for us to even imagine how our society would work without them. But it would, in no small part because it did, for thousands of years. There are so many good alternatives to cops for managing our community issues. We just need to reacquaint ourselves with them.

If you’re interested in finding out more, here’s a few good resources on the subject. They’re all free to read, watch, or download, so no excuses: get some knowledge!

  • Who Do You Serve, Who Do You Protect? Is a collection of essays by activists, journalists, community organizers and survivors of state violence, taking on the criminalization, militarized violence and anti-Black racism that is endemic to police departments worldwide. It’s currently a free download at Haymarket books.
  • The End of Policing by Alex Vitale is a more focused book, explicitly taking on the reasons why so-called ‘police reform’ is insufficient, and what the praxis of police abolition could look like. If your first thought when you hear ‘abolish the police!’ is “but who will you call when the criming happens?” This is the book to check out. From Verso.
  • The Nitty-Gritty: Sexual Violence and Transformative Justice in Alternative Communities is an in-depth look at transformative justice systems that don’t involve the police, from our friends at The New Modality.
  • The latest episode of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver tackles the issue, with their usual in-depth analysis. HBO has made the entire episode available to watch for free on YouTube, and I highly recommend that you spend 30 minutes doing so.

The violence inherent in policing is only one aspect of how systemic racism manifests itself in society. The United States, in particular, has a deep reckoning pending with regards to anti-Black racism, specifically. We all need to step up to address the issue, because goodness knows our leaders are not. It cuts across all sectors of society, and it’s on all of us to engage with it. To not do so is actively racist — you’re either helping to fix this, or your complicity through silence is a big part of the problem. It’s why we’ve done things like publish the #BlackSpecFic report, and why we continue to do other work in this space.

Part of that work is supporting and uplifting our Black colleagues, and as such, I want to direct you to subscribe to FIYAH! Literary Magazine. FIYAH! Has been a standard bearer for excellence in Black speculative fiction for years now, and recently they’ve announced that due to an uptick in subscriptions, they will be able to start paying SFWA-qualifying ‘pro’ rates. This is fantastic news, and will hopefully have the knock-on effect of bringing more Black authors into SFWA, where their voices are sorely needed. FIYAH! recently announced that they broke 1000 subscriptions, and I’d like to see that number keep growing. Please go subscribe. Also, as we announced on Twitter, the first five people who DM us proof that they’ve donated to their local bail fund will get a 1-year gift subscription from us.

As always, thanks for reading.

© 2020 Pablo Defendini

About the author

Pablo Defendini

Pablo Defendini is a designer and developer for hire, with a focus on editorial design for digital media. He helped launch Tor.com, before moving on to work for companies that sit in the overlap between publishing and technology, like Open Road Media and O’Reilly. Pablo was born and raised in San Juan, Puerto Rico, lives in New York City, and works with people all over the world.