Former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick kicked off his “Kaepernick Publishing” essay series Tuesday with a missive describing a change of heart he’s experienced since holding his kneeling protests in 2017 and explaining that he’s now opposed to reforming law enforcement and would prefer a total “abolition” of police and prisons.
“Under the subheading title ‘F—k Reform,’ he wrote that his thinking ‘was fastened to a reformist framework,'” according to Fox News. “He admitted that he ‘missed the larger picture,'” where even major changes to policing would produce similar problems to those that, in Kaepernick’s mind, currently plague law enforcement.
The focus on individual punishment will never alter the outcome of a system rooted in Black death,” Kaepernick noted. “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. And in both the past and the present, these reforms have done nothing to stop the actions that force us to #SayTheirNames.”
The solution, Kaepernick believes, is no longer police reform — even if that reform is comprehensive and significant. The only way to eliminate institutional and systemic racism in law enforcement, he says, is to eliminate law enforcement.
“Despite the steady cascade of anti-Black violence across this country, I am hopeful we can build a future that imagines justice differently. 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,” he wrote.
“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. In order to eradicate anti-Blackness, we must also abolish the police. The abolition of one without the other is impossible,” Kaepernick continued.
Such an abolition, Kaepernick believes, will have wide-ranging effects, but he resists the urge to explain how ending law enforcement will somehow result in an end to homelessness and other social ills, other than to speculate that money spent on policing will be redistributed in a way that is not guided by “white supremacy.”
“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,” he said.
Kaepernick now famously launched his own anti-racism and anti-police brutality protest in 2017, kneeling during the national anthem ahead of NFL games to draw attention to what he called a “systemic” problem with policing.
The kneeling protest caught on in the NFL after President Donald Trump openly critiqued Kaepernick, but ended after Kaepernick turned down a one-year contract extension with the 49ers to pursue other opportunities inside the NFL. He never landed on a team and eventually sued the NFL for “conspiring” against him to lock him out of professional football.
Kaepernick experienced something of a popular resurgence earlier this year amid national protests following the death of George Floyd while in the custody of the Minneapolis Police Department, but while the NFL seemed more open to embracing social justice messaging, the league reportedly, per earlier Daily Wire coverage, never considered bringing Kaepernick back to play. Kaepernick eventually tagged the league’s social justice focus as “propaganda” in a social media message issued on the league’s opening day.
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