Alternatives to Policing in Arab & Muslim Communities
Download English and Arabic reports below
Please feel free to distribute the documents below widely and cite the appropriate author of any tools you use (listed on page footers). AROC is available to support training, political education, and exchanges in order to engage in mutual learning as we collectively work to advance these conversations and practices within our communities.
The reprehensible death of George Floyd has resurfaced the relationship between Arab communities, small businesses, surveillance and police. It has opened up and deepened conversations about Arab and Black solidarity. And it has the whole world interrogating the nature and logic of policing.The recent murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Aubrey, and so many other Black people emerge from the structural violence and racism so foundational to social and economic life in the United States, and to the role of policing—in this country and many others. Yet, we continuously find ourselves relying on police to address harm.
We cannot rely on systems of policing and imprisonment to rid us of the violence of policing and imprisonment. As Brown and Black communities, we live shoulder to shoulder with each other in a system that is designed to destroy us. While the US and other oppressive regimes continue to consolidate power and escalate repression, we must continue to develop our organizations, build up our movements, and assert our collective power. It was through this framework of joint struggle that we ended Urban Shield, the world’s largest SWAT police militarization program. It is through this framework that we can fight to win in this moment.
While we do not fully know what was behind the decision to call the police when George Floyd tried to purchase an item with an alleged counterfeit bill, but we do know it was an Arab store clerk who made that call. This requires us to understand this terrible decision and its deadly outcome. We understand that this store has been under Islamophobic surveillance and scrutiny by the city of Minneapolis for nearly 20 years. Following a pattern of police pressure across the country, business owners have been threatened multiple times to report any suspected “criminal activity”. The clerk that day was following a protocol rooted in fear of constant retaliation by the police. That protocol led to the brutal and senseless murder of an unarmed Black man.
We know we have to do better.
We need ways to respond to harm and fear that do not make us rely on law enforcement or on the criminalization of other communities. We need ways to develop internal capacity to respond, defend, and build power in places that are most vulnerable. And we need to practice this when we are not in crisis or under pressure so that we can remember we have many more options than engaging the police. The work of this document has laid the groundwork for AROC to move in that direction with clarity and alignment with our values and principles.
In this time of mourning, rebellion and hope, we offer this as a resource to our community and other POC communities who want to learn alternatives to policing and imprisonment. As an Arab and Muslim-led organization, doing this work has strengthened our organization and built on our resilience and solidarity. We can and must distance ourselves from the systems that harm and destroy our community, and in particular, that of our Black community.
We support and are inspired by the many calls to action to dismantle the power of police, and to provide reparations to those at the receiving end of the violence of policing including: Movement 4 Black Lives, Anti Police-Terror Project, and Critical Resistance.
We follow the lead of generations of abolitionist thinkers and organizers as we try to contribute to building a world where we can all live with dignity and freedom.
*Rachel Herzing is a founder of Critical Resistance and current director of Center for Political Education