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Professor at Boston University puts forward theory that police ‘are inherently harmful’

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Professor at Boston University and Proponent of Critical Race Theory Ibram X. Kendi proclaimed the theory that “policing is inherently harmful” during a panel over the weekend on the abolition of policing in the United States

Kendi, director and founder of BU’s Center for Antiracist Research, chaired the panel with Elizabeth Hinton, an associate professor of history at Yale University, and “Becoming Abolitionists” author Derecka Purnell during BU’s National Antiracist Book Festival this Saturday.


“I think one of the overarching points that you have just demonstrated in so many different ways is: The theory that the police can reduce damage or create security is fundamentally flawed because the police are inherently harmful,” he said. said Kendi to Purnell during the discussion, referring to. to her book.

Ibram X. Kendi proclaimed the theory that "the police are inherently harmful."

Ibram X. Kendi proclaimed the theory that “the police are inherently harmful.”
(Michael Loccisano / Getty Images)

“But it’s so ingrained in us that the police are protective,” he continued. “And you demonstrated that even the concept of police violence, we now do not even have to use the concept of violence, because the police are, by their very nature, violent. Do you think it’s the big deal that people should imagine a world where we is able to abolish the police and create various ways to reduce damage that people still can not get around the fact that the police are harmful? “

Purnell said people’s fears about the potential abolition of law enforcement are poorly justified because of the damage that law enforcement itself has created.

“When I hear people talk about the fear of, ‘Well, if we abolish the police, or if we defuse the police, then who will protect all people from rapists?’ Purnell argued. “When the police regularly sexually assault people every single day. Every single day. And we just take that as part of being at work.”

“Police provide a lot of protection,” she said. “They protect the borders, they protect private property, they protect capitalism, they protect the people in power. Every single white supremacy march I have protested against was the police there against us, not the white supremacy. And so I know exactly what the police protects. “

“Let’s ask, what are the police doing?” she continued. “Are they the best we can do to prevent injury and respond to injury? And I would say it is a resounding ‘no’.” They are not the best we can do. And we can look to brown people, to refugees, to black people, to the working class and exploited people all over the world to give us an answer as well. “

Protesters hold a sign reading "Defund the police" during a protest over the death of a black man, Daniel Prude, after police put a spittoon over his head during an arrest on March 23 in Rochester, New York, USA on September 6, 2020.

Protesters hold up a sign with the text “Defund the police” during a protest against the death of a black man, Daniel Prude, after police put a spittoon over his head during an arrest on March 23 in Rochester, New York, USA on the 6th. September. 2020.
(REUTERS / Brendan McDermid)

Hinton argued that policing in the United States “clearly has not worked” and that a “preventive approach” is needed.

“In colored communities, in low-income communities, the purpose and function of policing is surveillance and social control and identifying individuals to be removed,” she said. “The purpose and function of police-fighting middle-class societies is to protect property. It’s another line of passage that stems from slavery.”

“We have to try something completely new,” she continued. “And I think we need to think of a robust definition of public safety and security, which means that people have adequate access to health care, every single person in this country has access to nutritious food. For me, it’s security. That provide people with educational opportunities – leading to security and a vibrant democracy. “

Black Lives Matter Sign (iStock)

Black Lives Matter Sign (iStock)


Purnell said it is their job as advocates to shed light on “how the police provide more protection to oppression systems than they do to justice systems.”

“The exciting thing, I think, about abolition is that there are a lot of different policy changes that we can have to increase the power of action for people,” she said. “So it ranges from universal basic income to universal childcare to seeking student debt. There are so many tangible, concrete ways we can improve the lives of many people.”

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