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In searing essay, Colin Kaepernick says forget about prison reform, abolish 'white supremacist' jail institutions altogether

That's a big ask

Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images

Former NFL player-turned-activist Colin Kaepernick has issued a scathing rebuke of law enforcement and prison systems in a new essay for his series, "Abolition for the People: The Movement for a Future Without Policing & Prisons."

Kaepernick published the new essay, "The Demand for Abolition," as the first of 30 forthcoming essays with the goal of furthering the pursuit of "abolition" of prisons.

The production is a collaboration between Kaepernick Publishing and Medium's Level.

What are the details?

In the essay, Kaepernick, who helped to usher in the Black Lives Matter movement to the mainstream U.S. public, says that prisons should no longer be reformed, but should be abolished entirely.

Kaepernick, who has advocated for prison reform since at least 2015, says that he is backing away from supporting prison reform out of fear and concern of being complicit in white supremacy, death, and more.

"Reform, at its core, preserves, enhances, and further entrenches policing and prisons into the United States' social order," Kaepernick writes in his new essay. "Abolition is the only way to secure a future beyond anti-black institutions of social control, violence, and premature death."

"Ultimately, I realized that seeking reform would make me an active participant in reforming, reshaping, and rebranding institutional white supremacy, oppression, and death," he reasons.

He continues, "To be clear, the abolition of these institutions is not the absence of accountability, but rather the establishment of transformative and restorative processes that are not rooted in punitive practices. By abolishing policing and prisons, 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."

Kaepernick says he aims to help usher in a new world; one "grounded in love, justice, and accountability, a world grounded in safety and good health, a world grounded in meeting the needs of the people."

"Abolition now," he writes. "Abolition for the people."

One last thing…
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