On the latest episode of People’s Party, Talib Kweli and Jasmin Leigh sat down with the co-founder of the Los Angeles chapter of Black Lives Matter, Melina Abdullah, for an in-depth chat about America’s racial wealth gap, systemic racism, and the types of “good trouble” Abdullah has gotten herself into throughout her career as an activist. Following the countrywide protests over the police killing of George Floyd in late May, Abdullah has remained a vocal champion of the “defund the police” movement — an idea that has spread rapidly and, while not endorsed by either Presidential candidate, is still a matter of discourse across the political spectrum.
While discussing her goal to “undo policing,” Kweli pressed Abdullah on the meaning behind the phrase “defund the police.” She breaks it down definitively in the clip above.
“‘Defund’ was our way of getting away with saying we’re abolitionists,” she explains. “Policing, and jails, and prisons, they’re not reformable. They’re irredeemable systems. Policing, literally — and this is not disputable — the American system of policing literally evolved out of slave catching. When we think about what chattel slavery is and why it had to be abolished, and when we think about how ridiculous it would’ve been to say ‘lets reform chattel slavery’ that’s the same ridiculousness with which we have to meet people who say “lets reform policing.’”
Abdullah acknowledges that defunding the police is a road to eventual abolition — an opinion not shared by a majority of Americans in any group surveyed by a recent Gallup poll. But she also offers a new way of envisioning public safety in a world without police,
“We’re not saying we don’t want to live in safe communities. We absolutely want safe communities. But what does public safety, what does community safety look like? So we want to defund and abolish the police and we still want safe communities, recognizing that safe communities are built when everybody has housing. Safe communities come when people have good jobs. When there are quality after-school programs when we have mental health resources and health resources… We want to defund the police and reimagine public safety.”
Watch ‘People’s Party with Talib Kweli’ featuring Melina Abdullah at YouTube.com/UproxxVideo.