According to JustJared, the letter, which has been signed by Rihanna, Ariana Grande, Justin Bieber, Billie Eilish, Megan Thee Stallion, Demi Lovato and more, calls for the abolition of New York state’s Statute 50-A. Statute 50-A is a state law that prohibits the public access of police’s personnel and disciplinary records, making it harder to seek justice and police reform. Abolishing it would make police officers and their records public, creating a more transparent and fairer police system.
The letter reads, “we must hold accountable those who violate the oath to protect and serve, and find justice for those who are victims of their violence… It is not enough to chip away at 50-A; this boulder in the path of justice has stood in the way for far too long and must be crushed entirely.”
“It is not just a misreading of the statute; it is not just an inappropriate broadening of its scope. It is the statute itself, serving to block relevant crucial information in the search for accountability.”
According to Insider, other celebrities like Lizzo, John Legend and Yara Shahidi signed a different letter demanding the need to defund and abolish the police.
But, what exactly does it mean to defund and abolish the police?
Even though the term 'abolish the police' sounds extreme, it's actually a widely-discussed solution to the current issue of police brutality and systemic racism against Black, Indigenous People of Colour (altho the systemic racism in Australia existed the second Captain Cook invaded in 1788). FYI, a large sum of government funding goes towards the police and they're in charge of... a lot.
So, the idea of 'abolishing the police' argues that the idea of enforcing the law and helping maintain order should be given to more than just the police and to individuals who are specifically trained to handle certain issues. Essentially, 'abolishing the police' means to gradually take away that large sum of money and put it towards services that help create a safer community where people are less likely to feel the need to commit a crime. With all the money that goes towards the police, people argue that the government could create more public housing for people who are experiencing homelessness or afford more available and accessible mental health services and people to help victims of domestic violence.
According to The Slacktivists, abolishing the police focuses on “creating a culture that focuses on preventing violence and uplifting marginalised communities.” It’s equally about dismantling centuries of racism deeply rooted in the police system and reshaping ideas of public safety and justice, creating less crime and thereby less of a need for the police.
Since the Royal Commission of Aboriginal Deaths in Custody in 1991, at least 432 Indigenous Australians have died in the hands of police (there are now estimates that this number could be closer to 437). Systemic racism against Black, Indigenous People of Colour (BIPOC) is, sadly, part of our country’s shameful history and legal and judiciary system. Police are often not appropriately trained, regulated or equipped to protect and serve, nor is police reform a good enough solution.
When footage emerged of a police officer kicking, body slamming and pinning an Indigenous teen to the floor, NSW Police Commissioner said he had looked into it and concluded that the officer was merely “having a bad day.” Needless to say, that’s not good enough.
Other alternatives lawmakers and academics have proposed to abolishing the police include, at the very least, firing and not rehiring officers who have previously enacted harm or discrimination against black or First Nations people, and disarming police and restriction police powers, retraining officers to learn and use alternate solutions to violence.
What would a community without police look like?
Abolishing the police won’t create a state of chaos and anarchy. Rather, it aims to create a society that values restorative justice, reimagining the way we see crime and focus more on improving the socio-economic instances that lead someone to commit a crime over stopping the crimes themselves.