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Colin Kaepernick says abolishing police, prisons is ‘the only way’ in new series of essays

The San Francisco 49ers Eli Harold (58), Colin Kaepernick (7) and Eric Reid (35) kneel during the national anthem on Oct. 2, 2016, at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif. (Nhat V. Meyer/Bay Area News Group/TNS)
October 15, 2020

Former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick is advocating for the abolition of both the police and prisons in a new series of essays titled “Abolition for the People.”

The essay series describes itself as a “movement for a future without policing and prisons” and is being published through a partnership between Kaepernick Publishing and Level, a Medium publication, and will include 30 stories from Kaepernick, as well as other political activists, scholars, and advocates.

In Kaepernick’s introductory essay for the series, titled “The Demand for Abolition,” the former NFL quarterback and political activist asserts that policing in the United States is “rooted in white supremacy and anti-blackness.” He then goes on to quote Black Panther Party co-founder Huey P. Newton, who stated that police exist to contain, brutalize, and murder members of minority communities, rather than to provide security and safety.

“In order to eradicate anti-Blackness, we must also abolish the police,” Kaepernick’s essay read. “The abolition of one without the other is impossible.”

The first several articles include arguments to abolish ICE, the LGBTQ community’s own fight for abolition, and how incarceration has impacted indigenous communities. Another essay titled, “How Abolition Makes Schools Safer” claims that having police in schools “corrupts the very nature of education.”

According to Kaepernick, reforming policing is not enough and he argued that anyone advocating for “reforming, reshaping, and rebranding” police is an active participant in white supremacy, oppression and death.

“Reform, at its core, preserves, enhances, and further entrenches policing and prisons into the United States’ social order,” he wrote. “Abolition is the only way to secure a future beyond anti-Black institutions of social control, violence, and premature death.”

The “Abolition for the People” essay series describes itself as an effort to promote the abolition of policing and prisons. The introductory editorial statement for the essay series states, “The need for abolition is rooted in the anti-Blackness intrinsic to policing and incarceration — phenomena which will be amply proven over the coming days.”

Kaepernick, in his introductory essay states, “Over the next month, my hope is that you, the reader, will have confronted the white supremacist underpinnings of policing and prisons and the state-sanctioned oppression, destruction, and execution of Black and Indigenous people and people of color.”

“You will understand the ways that reform has further legitimized policing and prisons into society. You will learn about the way that abolishing policing and prisons can create a society able to invest in the well-being of the people,” Kaepernick states. “My sincere hope is that you will be forced to make a moral choice by the time you finish these essays: Will you continue to be actively complicit in the perpetuation of these systems, or will you take action to dismantle them for the benefit of a just future? This moment in history will not be forgotten nor will the actions you, I, and others take.”