What To Do Instead of Calling the Police A Guide, A Syllabus, A Conversation, A Process
So, you understand that the police force in the U.S. upholds a system of racialized violence and white supremacy. You know that, when police get involved, black people, Latinx people, Native Americans, people of color, queer & trans people, sex workers, women, undocumented immigrants, and people living with disabilities and mental illness are usually in more danger, even if they are the victims of the crime being reported. You know that police violently escalate peaceful interactions and murder black people with impunity every single day in this country.
But, your neighbor is setting off fireworks at 3am, or there’s intimate partner violence happening outside your window, or you see someone hit their child in public… What do you do? What do you do instead of calling the police? How do you keep yourself safe without seeking protection from a system that is predicated upon the surveillance and extermination of others?
We start by shifting our perspective. We start by learning about the racist history of the police. We start by saying, an alternative to this system should exist. We start by pausing before we dial 911. We start by making different choices where we can. We start by getting to know our neighbors and asking them to be a part of this process.
As Taj James writes, “White friends and family, I think we are better off without the police. I think we might be safer, happier, healthier if there were no police. In addition to fewer Black people being killed by those police our life would be much better. I am starting to think we are better off without them. That we don't need them. That if we shut them all down today and transferred all the resources they control to communities to set up systems of community safety and accountability we would all be much happier. My gut is that when white people are able to say ‘Having no police is better than what we have now’ that will reflect the willingness and courage needed to make a fundamental transition from an old system to a new one.”
Below is an in-progress list of resources on alternatives to policing, which range from the theoretical to the practical.
An expanded document with synthesized best practices & case studies will be available by late fall 2016. Stay tuned!
If you’d like to add to or suggest a correction to this list, please email me (Aaron Rose) at aaronxrose at gmail dot com or alternativestopolice at gmail dot com. I'm currently taking responsibility for developing and managing this document, but if other people would like to help, or think I should be doing things differently, I'm happy to work with you and/or transfer ownership. [Edit: Thank you to everyone who has contributed and reached out so far. I’m responding to emails as quickly as I can!]