Amna A. Akbar is a law professor at The Ohio State University, Moritz College of Law. She writes about today’s left social movements and their demands. (June 2020)

Follow Amna A. Akbar on Twitter: @orangebegum.


How Defund and Disband Became the Demands

A protest in Brooklyn, New York, June 2, 2020

Although calls for defunding and dissolution, rather than reform, may feel new to many, abolitionist organizing against the “prison industrial complex”—which includes prisons, police, and surveillance—goes back more than two decades. There is no delusion among abolitionists that we will ever live in a world without conflict or interpersonal violence. Right now our go-to response to all manner of social, political, and economic conflict—whether it is homelessness, domestic violence, migration—is prisons and police. The abolitionist invitation is to investigate these problems with care and particularity, and collectively craft responses that do not rely on violence and punishment.