Abolish the police? Organizers say it’s less crazy than it sounds

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by By Maya Dukmasova
Chicago Reader

Until that moment on Fox News, Jessica Disu hadn't considered herself a police abolitionist. But on July 11, she was on national television, surrounded by 29 other people convened by Megyn Kelly to discuss the recent killings of Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, and several Dallas police officers.

"I was under the impression that it would be a robust and productive conversation, even though it was Fox News," says 27-year-old Disu, who identifies herself as a "humanitarian rap artist and peace activist" and is involved with various organizations serving youth on the south side. She prepared her message before going on the show: "It should be against the law for an officer to shoot a civilian," she says. "That was what my message was supposed to be."

 Disu was seated in the front row, wearing a green dress, black blazer, and gold hoop earrings, her braids pulled up in a bun. Next to her was Ron Hosko, a former assistant director of the FBI. Also present at the forum: several retired NYPD officers, a "conservative voter," a black pastor from Baltimore active with Black Lives Matter, a black pastor from Los Angeles who said Black Lives Matter was "worse than the KKK," a civil rights attorney, a civil rights movement leader, a white woman who referred to Newt Gingrich's "beautifully" spoken comments on race relations, a black Trump supporter, a "Second Amendment advocate," and several unidentified others.

The discussion quickly turned raucous, with panelists shouting over each other as Kelly called on participants to answer polemical questions in quick succession. Disu sat quietly, occasionally rolling her eyes, scoffing, laughing, or nodding in agreement. "A lot of my buttons were triggered and pressed," she recalls. "This felt so comical to me—it felt like a minstrel show."

But then people began accusing Black Lives Matter activists of calling for the death of cops, and Disu couldn't hold her tongue

"This is the reason our young people are hopeless in America," she began, as other panelists bickered around her. She explained that her activism in Chicago focuses on intracommunity violence. "Here's a solution," Disu said firmly. "We need to abolish the police."

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