Episode #11: ACAB, part 2 – Defunding Edition


CW: Please be advised that in the following episode we discuss police violence against Black communities, including murder, and trauma experienced by survivors of human trafficking.


We need to talk about social workers and the police. Again.

Ondine:               Hi, everyone. Welcome back to our podcast on Juneteenth.

Drew:                   Happy Juneteenth.

Ondine:               Happy Juneteenth. And for anybody who is unfamiliar, Juneteenth is a holiday that commemorates the official ending of slavery in the United States. Well, not modern day slavery when we’re talking about prisons-

Drew:                   Emancipation slavery.

Ondine:               Emancipation. Yeah. This was general Gordon Granger with the Union Army rolled into Galveston, Texas to declare that people who had been enslaved are now free. And that was in 1865, a whole two years after the emancipation proclamation. So this is something that people in Texas are more familiar with, but it’s something all over the country that we should celebrate. And I know you and I have talked about this, but it was never taught to me in Ohio.

Drew:                   Yeah. I was actually just tweeting about this earlier, how shameful it is. I was pretty late in learning about it. And I’m not saying shame on me or anything. And it’s a symptom of a bigger system of white supremacy. So yeah, sadly [crosstalk 00:01:11].

Ondine:               So happy Juneeteenth everyone.

Drew:                   Yeah. Yeah. Happy Juneteenth.

Ondine:               That’s probably the happiest part of this episode. We hadn’t intended to record. I think anything right now, we’ve got a lot going on. But it felt really important to continue the conversation we started with our episode, ACAB which I think we put out in October last year.

Drew:                   It was when Atatiana Jefferson was murdered in her home by police officers. And we are here to talk about another Black woman who was murdered in her home by police officers. In addition to many other Black people who have been murdered by police.

Ondine:               By the police. State sanctioned violence. I think actually more specifically, we want to talk about, in this movement right now, there is a call, well, to defund police and replace police with social workers. So we want to dig in on that a little bit, because we did in the last episode in ACAB, talk a little bit about examples of this in different places. We want to go deeper.

Drew:                   Yeah. I think we had a good start of this conversation in that episode. We even listened to it. Go back and try it out. But yeah, there’s a lot to talk about with this. And a lot of problems that are going to either continue to exist if you just replace social workers with police officers and you’re also going to create new problems.

Ondine:               So, let’s just set this up for some context. Although I hope everybody listening has been paying attention and knows what’s going on, but the Minneapolis Police Department murdered George Floyd about two months ago?

Drew:                   May 25th.

Ondine:               And this is one of many police inflicted homicides, I guess, but people are fed up.

Drew:                   Yeah, there is a whole ass rebellion happening right now.

Ondine:               Yeah. As there should be everywhere. So that’s why this conversation is becoming more front and center about what to do with these police. And there have been folks working on abolition for a really long time. Mariame Kaba comes to mind. An abolitionist organizer.

Ondine:               I have appreciated seeing this conversation become more mainstream, but when that happens, it gets co-opted sometimes by different people and it morphs and it changes. And I just want to lift up again, the abolitionists have been talking about defunding the police for a long time. This is not new. It’s just new to some people now. And there are probably a lot of folks who are like, “What? We can’t have a society without police.”

Drew:                   The hypothetical question is like, “Well, what are you going to do with all the rapists? What are you going to do with the murderers?”

Ondine:               Right? “How are we going to keep people safe?” And I will challenge you all to think about the fact that your imaginations may be a little atrophied. And this is a really good time to just think about what a world would look like or we don’t need these folks marauding in Black and Brown and poor communities.

Ondine:               We already have an example of what it can look like to not have policing. Drive around in any white, suburban neighborhood where people have, money and resources to send their kids to camp and keep up their houses and invest in their schools. We already have a blueprint of what it looks like. So don’t act like this is brand new.

Drew:                   No, not at all.

Ondine:               I’m feeling a little heated today.

Drew:                   Okay.

Ondine:               I just want to [inaudible 00:05:00]. I may have some stress in my voice because I feel stressed about what’s going on all around me.

Drew:                   Me too. This is heated though.

Ondine:               This is superheated. And I also just want to take a moment to all our Black social workers. We see you.

Drew:                   Yeah. I think the other thing I want to acknowledge is that we’re going to reference several things and talk about ideas. And you mentioned that this has been abolitionist work. Been happening for a while. Community organizers have been doing this work for decades.

Drew:                   Think of this as our platform to amplify that work that’s done. I don’t want to take any claim or authorship of that. I don’t have that. And again, this is the platform we have and this is what we’re doing with it. We’re amplifying this work, this message, and hoping to push that out even further.

Ondine:               Yeah. Depressed. Okay. So let’s, dig in on this question of what are people calling for when they say defund the police and why are people advocating for social workers to fill that void?

Drew:                   I think the first thread that comes back, or comes through from our first episode about ACAB, whether it was the embedding of-

Ondine:               Can I just say? There might be people who are like, “ACAB.” And who are still wondering what that means.

Drew:                   Do you want to tell us what it means?

Ondine:               Yeah. I didn’t want to before I thought it was cheeky or something, but I mean it. ACAB stands for all cops are bastards.

Drew:                   Yep. All cops are bastards.

Ondine:               It’s a lot of vowels.

Drew:                   All cops are bastards. The thread from the first one about social workers being embedded or employed within police departments as some kind of… I guess, if you are very optimistic on a harm reduction step, so that when these armed people respond to emergencies, that aren’t violent, that I guess the social worker goes with them to provide the deescalation, the actual humanity to those interventions. And some people are advocates for that. Some people-

Ondine:               Remember in the first episode, you talked about your experience working in a domestic violence shelter and needing to do welfare checks on clients and how that was when you realized that the standard procedure was not for staff to go and check on them, but to send the police.

Drew:                   Yeah. And I think too well thinking about that also, if you respond to somebody who’s maybe actively overdosing and a cop and a social worker go there, it’s great if they can save that person’s life, but you know they’re going to get tripped up.

Drew:                   That person who’s ODing is going to get tripped up in the legal system. Because what if they have kids, they’re going to all of a sudden start doing CPS and stuff like that. This isn’t, I don’t know. I struggle with this being a solution. It’s just like including another aspect of state violence and it’s not really community care.

Ondine:               Right. So let’s pick that apart even more. I do think that there is something about… I believe that it is perhaps a little touch of harm reduction to switch social workers and police, if anything, because social workers won’t show up and immediately kill you.

Drew:                   That is right. They aren’t going to murder you in public.

Ondine:               As far as I know.

Drew:                   Not yet.

Ondine:               So I can’t deny that. I’m sure there have been social workers who have done as much as they can to connect people, to help and to keep them from being incarcerated. So I also don’t want to just completely disregard the people who find themselves in these roles who really want to do the best that they can, but also just lifting up that, the best that we can, isn’t good enough and oftentimes can be actually more harmful.

Drew:                   Just because you have good intentions doesn’t mean you don’t still cause harm. We’ve talked about that a few times on this and you probably, if you are working to do a good social work, you know this already.

Ondine:               So Albuquerque, New Mexico just announced the formation of a new public safety department. So we’re seeing these conversations about defunding the police all over the country. Minneapolis has decided to defund their police force. I don’t know all the nuts and bolts of that, but I know that that has really sent ripples throughout the country.

Drew:                   Yeah. And I think a couple of things to be vigilant about with that, one is that through a lot of strong police union bargaining, police departments are funded exorbitantly. And I think one thing to still hold, to still demand to make your city officials accountable, is to make sure that money, the equivalent amount of money is sent to public services and community services and stuff.

Drew:                   Because we already know that social works actively devalued. Community care, social services are really just not appreciated. So in our instance, in our city, the police department alone makes up 22% of this whole city budget. So it’s like $84 million. And if you’re going to take all that away from the police and move it to social workers, don’t just say like, “But you can do it on 40.”

Drew:                   Because we’re already underpaid and underappreciated for it. I can see that happening too, because the people, I’ve talked about before, formerly elected officials think it’s unskilled work. And I think it’s also imperative that if cities are going to do this, you value this as much as you did your police departments.

Ondine:               So yeah, I completely agree with what you’re saying that there’s no reason to think that if cities decided to employ social workers, that they would move over the police budget and invest that much money. But I also just want to name though in that, that social services are fucked up anyway. So while they’re underfunded, I think providing them more funding may or may not actually be helpful to people.

Ondine:               And so a very tangible example of that, or let me get more clear is that Dorothy Roberts, who’s a professor of law and sociology and Africana studies at Upenn, has done a lot of writing and a lot of research around Child Protective Services and social work and racism.

Ondine:               And there’s a article that I will share on our channels called Abolishing Police Also Means Abolishing Family Regulation. And just she goes on to say that she’s really excited about these conversations about defunding the police and that she feels hopeful about that as I do. And because policing is not going to be fixed through reforms, if it was going to, it would have.

Drew:                   Yeah. Let’s talk about that for a second though, because in the United States one of our biggest organizing bodies, The National Association of Social Workers recently came out with a statement and the statement was in a response to an executive order that Colt 45 came out with last week about-

Ondine:               Oh, my God. When you said that, I for real thought about the malt liquor.

Drew:                   I think that’s part of it.

Ondine:               You’re talking about our president [inaudible 00:12:14]?

Drew:                   I am.

Ondine:               Okay.

Drew:                   Yeah. Also props to Mariame Kaba who on Twitter, that’s the first person I saw refer to him that way. So yeah. That he had an executive order that’s supposed to be police reform. And then the NASW came out with a statement about why this was inadequate and it goes on to explain why and why, and then when it gets to what they would prefer to see, it’s just a lot of other [inaudible 00:12:40] reform demands about banning, no choke holds or yeah, banning choke holds, banning racial and religious profiling, which at right there, I’m like, “If you do that, you just take away the police. That’s what they do.”

Ondine:               So hold on. So The National Association of Social Workers has lifted up what they think are the priorities. And one of those is, police departments should just eliminate racial profiling.

Drew:                   Yeah. Banning racial profiling and religious profiling, banning no-knock warrants, things like this, that…

Ondine:               Can I just say, I mean it’s incredible we’re in a position where there’s a conversation about having to ban choke holds like that’s a thing we should have ever had. That’s crazy talk. It’s crazy that choke hold-

Drew:                   We have to tell people that we do not that.

Ondine:               Okay, we have to tell people that. But yeah. I’m with you. These are… Again, if the police departments could just not racially profile. Yes, you’re right. We wouldn’t need them, but also maybe they would have done that. I don’t know. It’s so stupid.

Drew:                   If they wanted to not do this, they would be doing it already. And you can see this too. This is a little bit of a divergence, but this isn’t just like the bad apple theory. Right? Because you’re seeing this so-called blue flu happening right now. Where the guy that killed Raymond. Oh shoot. I can’t remember.

Drew:                   He was just murdered the other day in a Wendy’s parking lot by two cops and those two cops were fired. And now there’s talk in that police department that all these cops are going to call in sick or that I forget where else it was. I saw that several police off…

Drew:                   Oh, the two dudes who pushed that 75-year-old man. The two cops that pushed that 75-year-old man and cracked his skull, and he’s like, “I can’t walk anymore.”

Ondine:               The guy who was at the protest?

Drew:                   Yeah. Those cops just got suspended. So 70 [inaudible 00:14:34] cops also just did the blue flu thing and just called in sick or quit their positions and stuff.

Ondine:               As a protest to the fact that those-

Drew:                   As a protest in solidarity that they should not be held to this accountability standard. You should be able to do it. So they want this. And like I said, to your point, banning choke hold and racial profiling, if they wanted to not do this, they would be doing it. This is part of the job.

Ondine:               Yeah. I don’t think they could ban racial profiling because that is part of their job. Is to racially profile people and arrest them. The origin of policing, as we know it, it comes from the 1800, 1700 with these men coming together to be hired as slave catchers. That’s what police started as an [inaudible 00:15:23].

Drew:                   Yeah. You’ve seen those photos that are online of the gold six-star badge that does slave patrol. And that gets into another discussion about how police have always been there to protect the property of white people. Whether it was incredibly other human beings or what we’re seeing now with protecting Starbucks and Target, or even between the end of chattel slavery. That the police were busting up labor unions because they were protesting the conditions at work and stuff like that.

Drew:                   I’m jumping around. And like I said, getting in a divergence, but-

Ondine:               So you were talking about the NASW’s crap response.

Drew:                   Right. And they’re basically calling for this reform that again and again, nobody that’s actually been doing abolitionist work is saying we’ll work. Are actively saying piecemeal reform does not work. That is the statement from the movement for Black lives. That is the statement from Black Lives Matter.

Ondine:               Yeah, yeah. If it was going to work, it would have.

Drew:                   So yeah. Bringing it back to the statement that the NASW put out about the president’s executive order about police reform. The NASW president also responded to an op-ed that was originally written in the Wall Street Journal and the NASW president, Angelo McClain wrote this response because…

Drew:                   There was an op-ed written on June 8th by Naomi Schaefer Riley about, Are Social Workers the Answer, and about how this plays into abolishing the police and goes into these, the complicity of social workers when working with police officers in that realm of child welfare.

Drew:                   We did a whole episode about child welfare and how awful the social work profession can be in that setting. How often it perpetuates white supremacy, very dangerously, very violently. So anyways, this op-ed was written in the Wall Street Journal and then Angelo McClain wrote a response to it. Basically this was actually the headline.

Ondine:               I can’t wait.

Drew:                   Social Workers Cooperate with Police Forces. That’s this title. And it goes on-

Ondine:               This was written…

Drew:                   This was June 15th. What is today, the 19th. This was four days ago. So it goes on to talk about how, the NASW is all full strengthening the social work and police partnerships and how those can be an effective strategy in addressing behavioral health and mental health and substance abuse and homelessness and social workers, get this, social workers, help police fulfill their mission to protect and serve. He actually wrote that in print and then shared it with people.

Ondine:               So one call to action right now, I’m going to ask all of you listening to write some op-ed responses to email NASW-

Drew:                   Then tweet at them.

Ondine:               Tweet at them, show them that this is not an acceptable position.

Drew:                   Yeah, this is awful. So, yeah, definitely.

Ondine:               So can we circle back to the Murphy Robertson, her article about abolishing the police and family regulation. You said this just a second ago, and she says this, that regulating and destroying Black and Brown and indigenous families in the name of child protection has been essential to the ongoing white supremacist nation building project.

Ondine:               So, Child Protective Services or child welfare is designed to work that way. So taking money from the police when we defend the police and putting it into child welfare, just perpetuate, it’s going to result in more state surveillance and control of Black communities. So think about this, if in your community, there are these conversations about defunding the police. And if included in that, there is our proposals to move some of that funding over to CPS, because we should be working to abolish all carceral institutions.

Drew:                   Yeah. And to compliment that the article, the original one in the Wall Street Journal by Naomi Schaefer Riley, I never heard this term before, but I guess activist have called this involvement of social workers in state violence and what the police Jane Crow and Riley describes are the social workers who subject Black mothers to the low level surveillance going so far as some to call it harassment about their fitness to be mothers and be parents.

Ondine:               Yeah. You know what, when I was reading the article and thinking about… Again, if we’re real social workers, we’re trying to work ourselves out of a job and we are committed to decolonizing social work, but also this country. Right? So that got me thinking about participating in carceral systems.

Ondine:               And I just want to name this. I don’t really want us to talk about it because it’s a tangent, but I just was thinking about how there are a lot of social workers too, who work in the anti-human trafficking field and the ways that those folks, I haven’t heard anything public from people in that field, social workers in that field say anything in support of the movement for Black lives or defunding the police.

Ondine:               And I think that’s in part because those agencies and organizations work in very close partnership with the police, the solutions they lift up to human trafficking are all carceral. And I’m just noticing that.

Drew:                   I know you said you didn’t want to get into it. But can I add an anecdote to this?

Ondine:               Yeah, okay.

Drew:                   So when I was a shelter manager director at a shelter for domestic violence survivors, survivors of interpersonal violence, we actually had somebody who was a human trafficking survivor there, which isn’t really a good fit in those sorts of places from what I’ve learned since then.

Drew:                   But she was, as you can imagine, very, very traumatized. She was also an indigenous person and had a lot of flashbacks about just seeing murders and all this stuff and people being dismembered and stuff like that-

Ondine:               That’s awful.

Drew:                   …really awful stuff. And so a police officer came to do an assessment about those. I guess he worked with the human trafficking division or whatever. Comes in, talks to this person and then comes back and talks to staff. And he’s like, “Oh yeah, she talking about seeing all these dismembered bodies. There’s just no way that could happen because when people know about it…

Drew:                   And I’m like, motherfucker, do you know how many missing indigenous women there are in this country and in Canada? And he just dismissed it wholesale. Didn’t even-

Ondine:               So he just didn’t even acknowledge your comment.

Drew:                   Yeah. I was just like, because I didn’t say [crosstalk 00:22:10].

Ondine:               I’m guessing you didn’t say, “Hey, motherfucker.”

Drew:                   I didn’t say motherfucker. Yeah. Guess what, motherfucker.

Ondine:               Guess what.

Drew:                   Yeah, I didn’t say that. But I was just like, “How would you know this?” Because he’s just basing it on her severe paranoia, which is what you get when you’ve been trapped.

Ondine:               When you have experienced a trauma.

Drew:                   Yeah. And just was not taking it seriously. And I knew then and I was just like, “We’re fucked.” They’re not going to be any help for us. And this is why, because they’re super dismissive and there’s this hyper masculinity that happens in that, where they just are coming in and they’re not caregivers. They’re just very, very fast in trying to make decisions and solve crimes and shit. And don’t really care about the actual experiences of people.

Drew:                   They’re just there to try to close a case as quickly as possible. So anyways, I know you said you didn’t want to get into it, but it just reminded me of the danger of trying to put police officers in social worker roles because you get stuff like that. [crosstalk 00:23:03]

Ondine:               And the danger of social workers collaborating with police, because like you said, that police officer was working for some division that was collaborating with the human trafficking, anti-human trafficking task force or whatever. It’s just like, so super messed up.

Drew:                   Right. Anyways.

Ondine:               So let’s move on.

Drew:                   Yeah.

Ondine:               So another voice I want to lift up is this article by Sheila Vakharia, which has been making the rounds. And I will also make sure it gets shared on our social channels, but it’s called, “Social Workers Belong in Police Departments” Is an Offensive Statement.

Ondine:               So this short article that she wrote was a response to seeing a graphic that was making its rounds online that was created by the New York chapter of the NASW. And that it said that, “Social workers belong in police departments.” That was what it said. And she was like, “No.”

Ondine:               She [inaudible 00:24:04] really similarly to Dorothy Roberts, but she talks about how the suggestion that social workers should join precincts denies the reality that doing this, is fundamentally not going to change any of the harms that are inflicted on communities.

Ondine:               And that there’s little evidence to show that the presence of social workers in a police department actually reduces or changes the use of lethal force against Black and Latinx and indigenous people. It doesn’t seem to have any impact on preventing the police to stop patrolling these communities or to stop serving the interests of gentrifiers, social workers and police departments she talks about is not going to demilitarize them. So, like I said earlier, maybe the social worker won’t shoot you in your bed, but it doesn’t change this rotten system.

Drew:                   Yeah. That’s the thing, right? The police… It’s like Angela Davis said, I don’t know where to attribute the quote, but I’ve seen this quote from her that in her community, they always knew that the police were there to protect white supremacy. And if you just take the police out of it, white supremacy still exists, white supremacy doesn’t exist because of the police, the police exists because of white supremacy.

Drew:                   If you take away the police, that problem causing that, is still there.

Ondine:               Yeah.

Drew:                   So, yeah. Just like you said, putting social workers in there, isn’t actually going to address the white supremacy culture that they’re rooted in.

Ondine:               And again, we should be asking ourselves what it would take to work ourselves out of a job. And I think part of that is having the ability to vision a world that doesn’t need police.

Drew:                   Yeah.

Ondine:               Right? And what new policies or community systems would it take to create that world where our profession is obsolete?

Drew:                   In that same piece? You reference Sheila Vakharia actually says as much saying, we should be asking ourselves this, “What would it take to work ourselves out of a job rather than further entrenching ourselves in the harmful status quo of a violent system?”

Ondine:               Yeah.

Drew:                   I mean, that’s mic drop right there.

Ondine:               Yeah. So I guess for me, I’m coming around to this idea that, I don’t think our role is in these places.

Drew:                   Me neither.

Ondine:               I was thinking, just pondering this on the front porch earlier. And I was like, “I think if you are a social worker at CPS, you should quit.” Our neighbors have a sign, they’ve been protesting downtown a whole bunch and they have a sign out on their front porch and it says, good cops, [inaudible 00:26:39] cops. And then I think do good social workers quit their jobs?

Drew:                   This is that corrosive economy we have, right? You have to have money, right? So you have to go and sell yourself, do this stuff. But I think that conversation has to happen. It’s like, “How can we liberate and pull ourselves out of this stuff?” I can just go do stuff differently, start something new.

Drew:                   And I really… Gosh, this is going to sound really mean, I don’t know if it’s mean, but yeah, you’re right. If you are in those jobs, you should be trying to figure out a way to get out of that job. And I know you need money, which is why you got to go somewhere else. We have to make these things obsolete.

Ondine:               Yeah. I also am anticipating some pushback from folks who are like, “If I leave, then there’s nobody left, who’s trying to keep these kids in their homes.” And I’m like, again, I know that’s multiple things can be true at the same time.

Drew:                   Yep. Also, this is not the only thing that can help keep kids in their home.

Ondine:               That’s right. Right. Maybe what if we were throwing all of our energy into creating solutions for the fact that there’s no affordable housing for folks. That there’s not-

Drew:                   Childcare.

Ondine:               Childcare. That living wages don’t exist, access to health care is deplorable, these are the reasons… I mean, the folks who get involved with Child Protective Services, as you remember from our previous episode on this, these are mostly people dealing with poverty problems and most of people who are Black and Brown dealing with poverty problems.

Ondine:               That’s why CPS gets involved. They see that your electric is cut off. So then they say that you’re unfit to parent instead of being like, “Let me make sure that y’all have what you need. So you can pay your light bill.

Drew:                   Yeah. I’m really glad you lifted that up. That it is a common problem.

Ondine:               Yeah. I’m [inaudible 00:28:41] there’s like, I can already hear the, “Not all social workers.”

Drew:                   I was just thinking while you were saying that I was like, we’re going to catch so [inaudible 00:28:48] for that and that’s okay.

Ondine:               That’s okay. Throw it at me. I have been that person. I worked at an agency here that doled out money from HUD.

Drew:                   Yeah.

Ondine:               I am totally complicit in this shit.

Drew:                   Likewise, I am too. I really do think we’re going to catch some heat for this though. And the other thing that’s going to happen is let’s say social workers go and quit these jobs. And then the other argument that’s going to come up is like, “Well, then they’re just going to lower standards so they can hire people and it’s not going to be as trained and whatever.” I’m like, what?

Drew:                   So we’re de professionalizing it? That’s what I want to do too. And I know people hate it when we say that so much, but I am so for that as a social worker who had to jump through those hurdles and stuff, I feel a moral obligation to make sure other people who want to be social workers, don’t have to do that. And people who are-

Ondine:               Not just other people who want to be social workers, the people who are doing community care.

Drew:                   Yeah. Thank you. But yeah. And that’s what it takes. Okay.

Ondine:               Yeah.

Drew:                   What?

Ondine:               Well, I could think there’s just something about the way you said that like. I could see that people saying that what you’re saying is it’s fine to abandon all the people in CPS and just let it eat itself. And maybe that is what you’re saying and maybe that’s okay. I am just lifting. I’m holding that that sucks too. Right?

Ondine:               If everybody who’s a social worker quits their job at CPS, and then they hire a bunch of people who are also going to suck at that job. The families that are caught up in all of that are still going to suffer.

Drew:                   That is a good point. That’s like recycling, right? Like what I do individually, doesn’t actually change the system. That this is supposed to be helping. So yeah, I do… You are right about that. If you do quit, it’s not like the department of the health or family services or cabinet of family based services or whatever, is this going to go away?

Ondine:               Right.

Drew:                   The system is still there. It exists because white supremacy culture. It’s a symptom of that.

Ondine:               Honey, hold up that we just said, you should quit your job and maybe also said, maybe you shouldn’t quit your job.

Drew:                   I don’t know. We’re working through this.

Ondine:               Yeah, I think it’s important to name that.

Drew:                   This is how hard this is sometimes.

Ondine:               Yeah. We should be talking about it though.

Drew:                   Yeah.

Ondine:               So, one thing I think we should all be doing, if we’re not already is familiarizing ourselves with the platform that the movement for Black lives has put together and specifically some points around police abolition, lots of folks live in communities where there is an active Black Lives Matter chapter, and if you’re not already supporting that work, I would recommend that you find out if that chapter exists where you live and you do that. But while this is complicated and a hard terrain to navigate, there are concrete things that you can do for sure.

Drew:                   And so on the website for the movement for Black lives, there’s a entire page about defunding the police and very clearly articulating unequivocally that they want the shift massive spending on police that do not keep us safe to reinvesting it in a shared vision of community safety, that actually works.

Drew:                   That’s a little bit of the language that I’ve seen come out of the Minneapolis City Council choosing to defund the police. But part of this is all rooted around the fact that the police don’t keep us safe and that piecemeal reform, that doesn’t work.

Ondine:               Like we talked about.

Drew:                   Yeah, and they say it’s here. They don’t work well enough or fast enough, you cannot root out violent policing with narrow reforms designed to create change over time when our policing system itself is born out of white supremacy and decades of bad ideas gone unchecked.

Ondine:               Yeah. I think about people’s real push for community review boards of police. And if you’re reading this platform the way I’m reading it, advocating for community review board for your police department is not going to get us where we need to go.

Drew:                   Yeah. And then they’re also thinking a few steps ahead and saying that by defunding police, this doesn’t mean that you then do private or contract policing.

Ondine:               Oh, Good. I’m glad that’s mentioned. Because you know that’s the next step people are always trying to privatize stuff.

Drew:                   Yeah. I think a privatized police force is-

Ondine:               Even scarier.

Drew:                   Impossibly sounds even scarier. Yeah. And taking that money and reinvesting in communities and health and human services, that would address the poverty that as we’ve talked about is often the root of the things that people get in trouble for. That we were just talking about with Child Protective Services or what I’ve heard described as people committing crimes against poverty or crimes of poverty where like starving or your brain’s been hijacked by addictions or you can’t really control your behaviors, which wouldn’t necessarily be as exacerbated as poverty wasn’t the motivating force behind it.

Ondine:               Yeah. So familiarize yourself with this platform and what can you be doing to lift up the voices of the Black leaders in your community who are advocating for abolition?

Drew:                   Yeah. And some simple local steps too, see what the city’s budget is and how much of that is going to police departments, contact your local officials, rally other people to go and do that.

Drew:                   I know electoral politics is very, very limited and corrupt, but sometimes too, it’s like white people talking out against white supremacy culture. Sometimes that silence of not saying stuff to your elected officials, those elected officials might just take that silence as tacit agreement or approval. So it’s our job to make them really uncomfortable.

Ondine:               Yeah. And speaking of elected officials, I want to ask a favor of all of you. I hope most of you know this, but Breonna Taylor was an EMS worker, an essential worker and a beautiful human being who deserves to still be here. And the police in Louisville, Kentucky murdered her in her bed when they entered her apartment because of a no-knock warrant looking for drugs and somebody who didn’t even live there, who was actually already in police custody.

Ondine:               And right now, Louisville is basically on fire. Folks have been protesting in the streets. The police have responded terribly. They have teargassed people and arrested people every day. And it turns out that because the police union is so strong, I guess the mayor of Louisville doesn’t have the authority to fire these police.

Drew:                   It was in the contract.

Ondine:               Yeah. So the person who has authority now to get anything done is our attorney general here in Kentucky, Daniel Cameron, and as much pressure that can be put on him as possible to make him do the right thing, we would appreciate it. So, fellow social workers, if you can write him, call his office and make it really hard for him to ignore this.

Drew:                   And I will say just right before we started recording this, one of the officers was fired today.

Ondine:               So now he needs to be charged.

Drew:                   All three of them need to be charged with murder. And even though this officer today was fired, as far as I’ve understood the police contract, it might still be possible for this officer to sue the city to get his job back. That’s written in the contract. So this might just be ceremonial and it’s definitely not justice. Like you said, these people are… I mean, it’s been almost three months now, and this is the first action that has happened as a consequence that they faced as a result of murdering her.

Ondine:               Yeah. I have a couple of final thoughts, but I don’t… Is there more that you’d like to say about this topic, about social workers being embedded in police departments or-

Drew:                   No, just don’t do it.

Ondine:               Just don’t do it. So something that has been also floating around on the internet, you may have seen in the meme format, but it’s also the title of an article written by Trey Johnson that was in the Washington Post. But it says when Black people are in pain, white people join book clubs. And I want to say that, that’s like super true and I’m seeing a whole lot of that in my feeds of folks who are just stepping into this for the first time or being public about it. And the response is to read books about racism, watch documentaries, literally join book clubs.

Ondine:               And I certainly think that especially white and non-black social workers should be immersing themselves in media created by Black folks, which also just in aside, isn’t all about pain, right? You should also be reading stories about happy Black folks.

Drew:                   [inaudible 00:37:44], it should be supported as well.

Ondine:               But I just want to push you all that if that’s been your response lately is to turn within, so that you can learn and learn and learn and learn. It’s like, what are you going to do with that? And to bring it all the way back to the way back of our episodes, where we talked about de-colonize is not a metaphor. And that, that journal article and that one of the critiques of settlers from that article was what they called Return to Innocence.

Ondine:               And you reminded me that the quote they used was free your mind and the rest will follow. Basically settlers and also white people getting caught up in the forever, I’m going to learn forever. If I understand and know things, then things are better. That’s just not true.

Drew:                   You’re never going to know everything and you’re never going to be prepared for every scenario. And I think also this white supremacy thing of focusing on the written word and textual learning and stuff like that, experience is also learning. And so you’re just going to have to jump in sometimes whether you’re unsure or not. I say this because I’m guilty of it. I have been guilty of it. I have delayed because I didn’t feel prepared and we just have to… Sometimes doing something is better than doing perfect thing.

Ondine:               Yeah. Oh no, that’s all I got.

Drew:                   All right, then.

Ondine:               I hope this is a conversation… It’s useful for me to work these things out loud. I hope that it was useful to you all. And I know that we maybe disagreed a little bit more with each other this episode or maybe offered up some contradictions, but it’s hard.

Drew:                   But we have to figure it out.

Ondine:               We do.

Drew:                   If we’re going to be social workers and actually decent. We have to figure it out.

Ondine:               Yeah. Well, until next time, I guess.

Drew:                   I guess.

© 2022, Copyright All Rights Reserved. Hosted by Kingservers