In response to the “state-sanctioned lynchings” of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd, the radical Colin Kaepernick is spearheading a movement to dismantle the carceral state and demand abolition. The former NFL anthem protester introduced the “Abolition for the People” movement in a partnership between Kaepernick Publishing and LEVEL, a Medium publication for and about the lives of black and brown men.
LEVEL plans to run a series of 30 essays and conversations in the next month rejecting policing and prison reforms. Kaepernick justifies the purpose of the movement by writing:
“Those who have been terrorized by law enforcement, those who have had enough of their very existence being criminalized, and those who have dedicated their lives to the cause of liberation by any means necessary are demanding the abolition of the carceral state — the institutions, structures, and practices of anti-Black state-sanctioned violence that violates the fundamental humanity of Black and Indigenous people and people of color.”
Kaepernick now says he was wrong about the need for reform when he began kneeling during the Star Spangled Banner preceding NFL games in 2016. He says he was reacting to seeing “Black death all around me at the hands of the police. I saw little to no accountability for police officers who had murdered them. It is not a matter of bad apples spoiling the bunch but interlocking systems that are rotten to their core.” Systemic problems demand systemic solutions, he writes.
“Despite the steady cascade of anti-Black violence across this country,” Kaepernick hopes we can build a future that “imagines justice differently” — a world without the “terror of policing and prisons.” The 30 essays will focus on “anti-Black state violence and terrorism,” centered around the weekly themes of “police and policing, prisons and carcerality, fuck reform, and abolition now.”
The more Kaepernick has learned about the history and evolution of policing in the U.S., the more he says he understands the roots of “white supremacy and anti-Blackness.” He compares a 1701 South Carolina law permitting whites to beat black slaves for resisting to what happened to Rodney King in 1991.
By abolishing policing and prisons, American can create a utopia, Kaepernick asserts. He predicts “not only can we eliminate white supremacist establishments, but we can create space for budgets to be reinvested directly into communities to address mental health needs, homelessness and houselessness, access to education, and job creation as well as community-based methods of accountability. This is a future that centers the needs of the people, a future that will make us safer, healthier, and truly free.”
Capitalism is also a hallmark of racism, the NFL reject says. He agrees with Ruth Wilson Gilmore, a prison abolitionist and prison scholar, who said in an interview that “capitalism requires inequality, and racism enshrines it.”
Kaepernick hopes the 30 essays will convince people to stop being complicit in the perpetuation of racism and take action to dismantle it for the benefit of a just future.
Among Kaepernick’s one-liners are:
Blacks in prisons “have been criminalized and caged, in most cases, for being redlined into economic despair.”
“The central intent of policing is to surveil, terrorize, capture, and kill marginalized populations, specifically Black folks.”
“Abolition now. Abolition for the people.”