The former NFL player realized his form of protesting in 2016 focused on “individual punishment” rather than the bigger picture.
“I wanted change. I wanted it to stop. I wanted to reform what I saw. Yet, the reforms often proposed — use-of-force policies, body cameras, more training and police accountability — were the same recycled police reforms consistently proposed in the past,” he wrote. “And in both the past and the present, these reforms have done nothing to stop the actions that force us to #SayTheirNames.”
“The central intent of policing is to surveil, terrorize, capture and kill marginalized populations, specifically Black folks,” he continued before demanding the abolition of the police system.
“The ever-present threat of premature death at the hands, knees, chokeholds, tasers and guns of law enforcement has only further engrained its anti-Black foundation into the institutions of policing...,” he said, adding, “To eradicate anti-Blackness, we must also abolish the police. The abolition of one without the other is impossible.”
According to Kaepernick, reform “preserves, enhances and further entrences policing and prisons into the United State’s social order,” and therefore is not enough to combat the systemic racism embedded in the prison system.
“Abolition is the only way to secure a future beyond anti-Black institutions of social control, violence and premature death,” he said.
In Kaepernick’s call for the abolishment of police, he expressed his optimism for a future without policing and prisons.
“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,” he wrote.
“Despite the steady cascade of anti-Black violence across this country, I am hopeful we can build a future that imagines justice differently,” he continued. “A future without the terror of policing and prisons. A future that prioritizes harm reduction, redemption and public well-being in order to create a more just and humane world.”
Kaepernick’s article is the start of his “Abolition for the People” publishing series. In his partnership with LEVEL, he will publish 30 stories from various people that have been affected by Black violence and terrorism.