The Breakdown With Shaun King: Can You Be a Prison Abolitionist and Still Fight for the Arrest of the Men Who Murdered Breonna Taylor

You have heard me say it before, and I will say it over and over again until every person understands, the American justice system is not broken.

We are not a band-aid and a body camera away from fixing the criminal justice system.

This system is working perfectly for the straight, cis, white men who built it. It was designed to oppress and punish people of color and that is exactly what it is doing. There is no fixing this system, there is only tearing it down and building something new.

Yet, this is the system that exists right now. Black people are being unfairly incarcerated, placed on death row and murdered by police right now. Lives are at stake. We do not have the luxury of waiting for this system to be torn down. Those already entrapped cannot simply be abandoned. We must work with what we have while simultaneously working to build something brand new.

Hard conversations must be had within every movement, especially between those who are working towards the same goal and finding different ways of achieving it.

A major conversation going on among abolitionists today is whether or not you can truly be an abolitionist of the prison system while still calling for the murderers of Breonna Taylor or Ahmaud Arbery to be arrested. Some purists abolitionists believe in abolishing the prison system so wholly, they do not want anyone arrested, including police officers.

While the point being made is easily intellectually understood, it is one the majority of activists do not agree with. While the comparison of mass incarceration to slavery is an important one as it pertains to the disproportionate number of Black and Brown bodies being jailed, they are not the same. If the murders of Breonna Taylor are arrested, convicted and sent to prison, they are not slaves. They are not the stolen children of Africa who have been oppressed since the moment they arrived in this country.

In today’s episode, Shaun breaks down both sides of this argument and what his stance is on it.