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Friday 4:15pm

Abolish the police: liberal vs revolutionary perspectives


Introduced by American socialist activist Brian Bean.

In the struggle against anti-Black racism, organising against the daily violence and repression carried out at the hands of the police has always been central. The Black Lives Matter movement added a transformative energy to that fight. Debates in that movement, on the socialist left, and in society about the social role of the police are thus more revelent and demand to be taken up. Are the police an institution that can be reformed? No. Are cops workers that can be won over through struggle? Nope. Does the history of the police from its origins to the present reflect their social role being purely one of social control and violent, racist repression? Yep. This talk will take up these debates and more in presenting a socialist case for connecting the activism against police violence to the need to see the police as an institution that is thoroughly irredeemable and in need of abolition. This analysis is important in shining light on what kind of reforms we fight for today and also the strategy and perspective needed to abolish them altogether.

Brian Bean is a Chicago-based revolutionary socialist organiser, activist and writer. Brian has taken part in a wide array of campaigns and struggles but their main areas of focus have been around organising against police terror and anti-Black racism as well as solidarity activity with the Middle East and North Africa. They are one of the founding editors of the new Rampant Magazine and co-editor and contributor to the forthcoming book Palestine: A Socialist Introduction to be published next year by Haymarket books. Brian’s articles on anti-racism, Chicago politics, and MENA solidarity have been published in Socialist Worker, Jacobin, Red Flag and reprinted and translated in many other outlets and languages.


Deaths inside: Indigenous Australian deaths in custody in 2019, The Guardian


Collection of Socialist Worker US articles on the topic of police & injustice: https://socialistworker.org/topic/141

Khury Petersen-Smith, Black Lives Matter: A new movement takes shape, International Socialist Review No 96, Spring 2015


Roz Ward, Coercion, Consent and Australian policing, Marxist Left Review No 6, 2013.


Tom Brambel, Police State: The politics of law and order, Marxist Left Review No 17, 2019.


Sarah Garnham, The police are not on our side, Red Flag.


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