Connecticut State Representative Joshua Elliott has posted on his Facebook page the following: It isn't discomfort about addressing the issue of abolishing the police on its face. After enough conversations with folk, I believe in the mission.
Elliott has lead the charge to abolish the religious vaccine exemption in Connecticut. If he'd only been able to do away with the police in Hartford, perhaps one of our finest advocates and attorneys would not have been ARRESTED for raising her voice in the legislative building during a peaceful protest. Vaccine rights and the right to protection by the police are two pretty different topics. But here we will find more people to share common ground (not to be confused with Elliott's Common Bond natural food market a few miles from my home) who realize that there are some politicians who see a very different path forward than many of us.
There are parallels between the BLM movement and the autism community. Hear me out. We ALSO see our loved ones secluded, restrained, shocked with electricity (hello Judge Rotenberg Center in Massachusetts) and choked to death. We understand the worry a mother feels sending her son out into the world. We know the pain. We want TRAINING. UNDERSTANDING. Benefit of the doubt. full disclosure: I am a white, middle aged woman. Named KIM. Not Karen.
A quick aside: In 2020, 2 masked men broke into my home while I was alone working. I dialed 911 and let me tell you, I didn't want a social justice advocate sauntering down the street to help. I wanted Batman, Superman, The Hulk and the men and women of my town police force. And when my daughter Isabella was assaulted by a bus aide over and over? It was a Police Detective who worked like a dog to bring her assailant to justice - and by doing so - protect others from ever having to work with the young monster because she is now a felon, unable to work with disabled or elderly above the table.
I will be going hard on this issue this election cycle (and beyond, but it's during election cycle that I'm out at people's doors having many one on one conversations.)
First, it's important that I admit discomfort. It isn't discomfort about addressing the issue of abolishing the police on its face. After enough conversations with folk, I believe in the mission. It's the fear of not being taken seriously by people - something that folk who push the narrative have to face day in and day out.
Black Lives Matter may not have started as a full-throated movement a few years ago while organizers, activists, and advocates began to coalesce their numbers, strategies, and narratives. Now it is, and it is taken seriously by everyone.
Abolishing the police, as a movement, is in a similar position.
I know my discomfort isn't special. That is, if we examine whether or not my white colleagues would be willing to take the position that advocates and activists are taking, I would be surprised if many of them would use the same verbiage.
It has been my consistent belief that my role as a white legislator, representing a majority white district, that my priority cannot simply be getting re-elected or saving myself from difficult conversations - and then sometimes voting right. It is my priority to lead with the advocates and activists and push my constituency in difficult ways - in the same way that I push myself.
Again, the biggest fear is that of not being taken seriously. This fear pales in comparison to the fear of being at the mercy of police in any situation, regardless of how successful, talented, hard working, or perfect you are - if you are a person of color.
I only say these things because I understand how hard it must be for colleagues to also take this position - that of abolishing the police. And to be clear, abolishment is not the whole argument - setting up services so that we have a true reduction in crime is the other half of abolishing the police. We need to create a system that helps people.
I look forward to continue listening to the advocates and being pushed, shamed, and strong-armed into adopting the vanguard of social change.
As always, check me. I put myself out there to be challenged, not to be challenging, and so that I can most accurately represent where the movement is going.