In 2017, on the 150th anniversary of the Minneapolis Police Department, MPD150 produced a people’s history and performance evaluation of the MPD. That report, “Enough Is Enough,” was expanded in 2020, and continues to be available for free. While the work goes on, MPD150 itself was never meant to be a permanent organization—just a collective of community members who came together to work on that specific project.
On November 14, 2022, we held a panel discussion to mark our sunsetting. This page shares the recording of that event, as well as other resources and reflections from the past six years of MPD150’s work.
Table of Contents
- All MPD150 Projects and Publications
- A Snapshot of the Minneapolis Abolitionist Ecosystem (Links and Resources)
- Video of Our Sunsetting Panel Discussion
- Responses to the Question: How are you continuing to practice abolition in your life?
MPD150 Projects and Publications:
- The “Enough Is Enough” Report
- While MPD150 is sunsetting, the work of distributing our flagship project goes on. It’s available online, but we’d love to get the beautiful, magazine-style (and free!) physical versions into as many hands as possible. If you know of a class, conference, organization, congregation, or other group who might want a box (of 25), or multiple boxes, please email info@MPD150.com.
- Individual pickups are still available at RLM Arts, Moon Palace Books, b.Resale, Boneshaker, Asa’s Bakery, and other local partners, though inventory may not always be guaranteed at each individual site.
- The “Community Policing and Other Fairy Tales” Comic (included, in its entirety, in the report)
- The Abolition FAQs Zine, which Interrupting Criminalization and Project NIA expanded into “Police Abolition 101: Messages When Facing Doubts”
- The #AbolitionReadings Zine
- One of the most robust abolition resource pages on the internet
- “The Fantasy of Community Control of the Police” Resource
- The “Copaganda: Police Trials as a State and Media Kettling Tool” Toolkit
- And our closing project, the Lupine Project!
A Snapshot of the Minneapolis Abolitionist Ecosystem (Links and Resources)
These aren’t necessarily endorsements or anything; just a “snapshot” of the local ecosystem for those looking to learn more and/or get involved.
- Relationships Evolving Possibilities (REP) is “a network of dedicated abolitionists showing up to support others in moments of crisis or urgency, with care and respect for the full dignity and autonomy of the people in crisis.”
- Black Visions is “a Black-led, Queer and Trans centering organization whose mission is to organize powerful, connected Black communities and dismantle systems of violence.” Specifically, check out the #FundOurCommunities work happening right now.
- Reclaim the Block is currently refocusing/re-orienting, but still share good resources on Twitter.
- End Youth Prisons MN is “a storytelling, advocacy, and organizing campaign to end youth incarceration in Minnesota and build power among young people and their families.”
- The Institute of Aspiring Abolitionists will “provide political education for community members and practitioners to learn effective ways to improve relationships and reduce harm through courses, workshops, trainings, and coaching.”
- Communities United Against Police Brutality “was created to deal with police brutality in Minnesota on an ongoing basis. We work on the day-to-day abuses as well as taking on the more extreme cases. We work to combat police brutality from many angles, including political and legislative action, education, research, and providing services and support for victims and their families.”
- George Floyd Global Memorial: was “established to bring together members of George Floyd’s family and the local community to preserve these creative expressions of pain and hope of the people for the people. Our work is to ensure that the stories of the community are told and used as educational resources for generations to come.”
- Twin Cities Mutual Aid Project: Sharing this link here just as a potential starting point for people who want to find a neighborhood mutual aid group to support and/or join. There are many.
- 612 M*A*S*H: “Established at the George Floyd Memorial, aka George Floyd Square (GFS), 612 M*A*S*H is a 501(c)(3) non-profit that provides free medical care for community members and visitors who face limited access to quality health care resources. We are licensed and insured health providers opening a community clinic.”
- Justice Frontline Aid “is an organization committed to providing aid, resources, and education to those who put their bodies on the frontlines in the fight for justice.”
- Showing Up for Racial Justice (Twin Cities) “organizes white people to build the political will needed to end white supremacy. We do this through political education, direct action, self reflection, and community-building, and by following the example and leadership of BIPOC partners.”
- Neighborhood/city-based groups and projects like Whittier Copwatch, Seward Police Abolition, Root and Restore (St. Paul), Community Not Cages (Winona), and beyond. Some are active, some dormant; a bit of research may turn up others.
- One Million Experiments: Project NIA and Interrupting Criminalization’s database of abolitionist projects and ideas. (Not local, but a good resource; more here)
- Independent media, from Unicorn Riot, to BLCK Press, to the MN Reformer, to the Sahan Journal, to Documenting MN, and beyond.
- …this is just a sample, a snapshot. There’s much more happening.
Sunsetting panel: video + panelists and moderator info:
This virtual panel took place on November 14, 2022, and features local activists who were not directly involved with MPD150 (aside from the intro), but who could speak to the group’s work and impact, while also looking ahead to new possibilities.
Rose M. Brewer is The Morse Alumni Distinguished Teaching Professor and past chairperson of the Department of African American & African Studies, University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. She is an affiliate faculty member in the Departments of Sociology and Gender, Women and Sexuality Studies. An activist scholar, Professor Brewer publishes extensively on Black radical feminism, political economy, social movements, race, class, gender and social change. She was a founding board member of Project South: Institute for the Elimination of Poverty and Genocide; a past board member of United for a Fair Economy, and a founding member of the Black Radical Congress. She is currently a member of the Black Visions policy board. As a core organizer of the 2007, 2010 and 2015 US Social Forums, the struggle for social transformation for her is centered in the local and global for people and the planet.
Jason Marque Sole (he, they) is a formerly incarcerated abolitionist. He has been a criminal justice educator for 13 years and is currently an adjunct professor at Hamline University in the Criminal Justice & Forensic Science Department. He has facilitated hundreds of circles in jails, prisons, and communities across the nation. Jason is also the co-founder of the Humanize My Hoodie Movement in which he challenges threat perceptions of Black people through clothing, art exhibitions, documentary screenings, and workshops. He is a Core Member of Relationships Evolving Possibilities (REP) where several abolitionists respond to community harms in the Twin Cities. In addition, he recently launched the Institute of Aspiring Abolitionists for people who’d like to learn more about abolitionist frameworks.
Taiwana Shambley (she/her) is a freelance fiction writer, teaching artist, spoken word artist, and abolition organizer from Saint Paul, living in South Minneapolis. Serving as lead organizer and creator of the youth prison abolition campaign End Youth Prisons MN from 2021-22 at the Legal Rights Center, she works to imagine and practice liberation for BIPOC youth in Minnesota, with special focus on queer & transness, disability, and incarceration. Her fiction has been recognized by grants from CURA and MRAC, and she has prose poems published by the Academy of American Poets and Belt Publishing. Currently pursuing a Master of Fine Arts in Fiction from Warren Wilson College, Taiwana is a 2021 graduate of Augsburg University in English and African American Studies. You can find Taiwana’s writing and learn more about how to support her work at taiwanashambley.com.
o (she/they) envisions a world where communities, especially those Black, under resourced, marginalized and historically oppressed, are autonomous in shaping their lives and delivering equitable policies for all. They believe deeply that in order to make space for such a world, old systems rooted in capitalism, white supremacy, anti-blackness and cultural genocide need to be abolished. They come to Nexus rooted in serving communities in various forms and have had a nuanced lens around criminal justice and the intersections of race, gender, sexuality and socioeconomic status. o is happiest when she is surrounded by community and her loved ones. She’s a foodie, bad dancer and while born and raised in the Bronx has come to call Minnesota home.
How are you continuing to practice abolition in your life? (Attendee Responses)
On November 14, 2022, MPD150 convened a virtual panel discussion to both mark the group’s sunsetting and explore what the work ahead of us all might look like. A guiding question in that discussion was “How are you continuing to practice abolition in your life?” What follows are some responses to that question from both MPD150 members and participants in the chat at that event.
Because abolition is about policy and systems, and it’s also about everyday practices. It’s about a vision of the future, and it’s also about what we’re doing, right now, in the present to build that future. We hope these responses can be useful to anyone continuing to do the work.
How are you continuing to practice abolition… in your neighborhood?
- I think a big part about making abolition real is just getting to know the people around you. A small example is that I made a point to join a neighborhood block party and offer to exchange contact info with a few of our neighbors.
- Making a real effort to meet the neighbors, trade phone numbers, etc., so people have someone else to call when they need things.
- Looking for opportunities to care for both the neighbor and the stranger, to care in meaningful ways… Also, actively resisting calling the police and instead asking neighbors and friends to step in/join me in witnessing, responding, intervening if necessary. I’ve been sharing more openly the times when I chose *not* to call the police and the good outcomes that came about…
- Building networks of support with people I love and community members.
- Building community and relationships – we keep us safe!
- Mutual aid. Building deep relationships with youth, neighbors, and community leaders. Dismantling oppressive and harmful systems within myself, my surroundings, and my community.
- Being open to my neighbors when they need a hand, and being brave enough to ask them for help when I need it.
- Working with neighbors to be a community, support each other, try other strategies for responding to neighborhood issues rather than call authorities especially the police — slowing the process down enough so those who would call the police get on board to try something else.
- Mutual aid as one practice of world making and cross community solidarity!
How are you continuing to practice abolition… in other spaces you have access to?
- Supporting an intentional process seeking to deepen anti-hierarchical and anti-colonial practices in my workplace. Working with organizations and activists to think and act beyond assimilation and reform.
- I’ve been talking about the concepts with professors and my colleagues in grad school for psychotherapy. I see my work as a therapist to be part of an overall abolitionist care system. Abolition remains a huge part of how I show up as a neighbor and community member.
- Working under harm reduction principles to get people what they need in healthcare. Fighting capitalism in the union fight!
- Building community! Having open conversations with community members who haven’t been exposed to an abolitionist framework.
- Supporting local spaces and people with the resources I have, reducing harm in my community, building relationships with young people, and now I will add “learning to be a good ancestor.”
- Working with other white people to un-do the intense resistance to racial justice, and become an asset to the struggle.
- Working to counteract competition and scarcity with collective support, resources, possibilities. Working with artists to keep bringing creative vision and strategies to the movement.
- I try to bring the lessons and knowledge that the work of abolition gives us to every project I’m involved in. Whether that’s running an online community, theatre arts, or just existing in community, there’s always an opportunity to work to erode the grip that the police state has on ourselves and those around us.
How are you continuing to practice abolition… as educators, storytellers, and signal-boosters?
- I sow seeds of “abolition” by educating people (neighbors, students, coworkers, strangers) about the racist and ableist origins of policing in our country and why we must divest from the police and invest in the things that actually lead to well-being: having our basic needs met. And I take time to dream of a police-free, prison-free world.
- Bringing abolitionist principles and ideas into spaces where they aren’t already present. For example, making space for a discussion of abolition inside a standard “DEI” training. Finding people who are already somewhat interested in racial justice and planting the seed that real change requires something beyond the same reforms that get tossed around endlessly.
- Making time to build community among/with my students.
- Practicing accountability within my family. Investing time in storytelling for and with Black queer youth.
- Supporting and participating in storytelling spaces so that we can deeply connect and imagine together.
- Sharing what I’ve learned to friends and family who normally wouldn’t be in thoughtful conversation around abolition.
- Teaching my white family and friends about the racism that lives in our bloodline, and stopping it.
- Educating people about police with facts like: Police in the US kill 1000 citizens every year, more than any other country. Second is Canada at 33, with a 10th of the population.
- Teaching my children to see the world more fully and working to understand how the police and PIC influence more of our lives and thinking in so many ways.
- I’m thinking about different ways to get people curious about abolition. There’s the bell hooks quote about “Whether we’re talking about race or gender or class, popular culture is where the pedagogy is, it’s where the learning is.” Or there was this abolition/pop justice series that Scalawag did recently that was really cool. I’d love to explore things like that more, through writing or mini workshops or otherwise.
How are you continuing to practice abolition… through self-work, learning, and unlearning?
- Shifting my mindset and priorities by giving myself permission to make the moves that feed me. It’s always been about the balance of commitment to my community and commitment to myself, though when we’re programmed to produce, even if we redirect away from the institutional meaning of the word, it’s easy to fall into a pattern of “should’s” with the responsibilities I care about.
- I am decreasing/eliminating practices in my life that support the policing and surveillance of Black and Brown bodies. So this means that I don’t call the cops. EVER. I engage in restorative, reparative, or transformative justice models.
- I think it’s important to think about what abolition looks like beyond policy and systems change. Policing runs deep in our subconscious for many of us, so while I haven’t had the capacity to be present for direct action and organizing lately I still keep the intentions of abolition alive in my day to day actions. That can look like a lot of different things depending on context of course, ranging from talking to your neighbors instead of calling 911 to building connections with the community around you. Every day is going to look different from the last, but if you move with the intention of separating yourself from policing and protecting your community from the police when possible, you can start to live into the future we all need.
- By practicing reframing binary systems and language in my own body and mind. Common examples being victim, abuser, right vs. wrong. It’s interesting to read and talk about, and even has a romanticized energy at times, but the truth is that it is a painful, scary and oftentimes lonely place to be. However, the more I am able to explore those foggy places, the more equipped I feel at being present and problem-solving in real life scenarios where it’s common in America to call the police or another “authority.”
- Doing a lot of work around healing and healthy relationships, particularly around my nervous system and the local ecosystem… and putting that into practice in a way that I have a positive impact on others. Also organizing in my workplace and advocating for democratic practices.
- Rethinking concept of “ownership,” learning how to better care for neighbors, learning about land back… it’s all connected.
- Co-struggling in loving, anti racist and courageous ways with other white folks to liberate ourselves from white supremacist and colonial structures and imagine another world together.
- Creation – every day. Looking for the things to bring gratitude for and to others. Where can I expand my time and being brave.
- Working really hard to challenge punitive mindsets and habits (especially my own) in my classroom.
- Questioning leadership and leaders who continue to present false narratives and ‘solutions’ that perpetuate violence. Presenting in words and art a vision of a world defined by justice.
- Cultivating gratitude for the disability rights community 🙏🏻 Staying alive practicing new collective futures with radical access and sacred relationship. Keeping each other safe 🏻 #flow
- Thanking the indigenous leaders who are protecting water. We owe them a debt.
- Trying to understand the long history of systematic racism and white supremacy through listening to warriors like you all, and to read as much as I can. To try and support and be an ally without taking up space. To participate in action and protest when I can be of help.
How are you continuing to practice abolition… via specific projects, initiatives, or resources?
- Supporting the work to build a Black-run credit union in N. Mpls.
- Organizing to get punishment and carceral strategies out of our public libraries via @librarypatronsunion.
- Talking with an incarcerated penpal found through Black and Pink Mpls! Trying to find trainings for me and my neighbors to address situations that arise on our block.
- MN Wrongfully Incarcerated Judicial Reform led by Marvina Haynes (sister of Marvin Haynes).
- Measuring Love by Shiree Teng. A fantastic resource. ❤️
- Organizing white people who want to end white supremacy through SURJ-TC.
- This year Black Visions is doing some budget organizing. The evening hearing is tomorrow.
- Also working with my mostly white congregation to collaborate with REP.
- Participating in deep canvassing work through TakeAction MN. Sometimes those conversations have been about policing/abolition/harm reduction/mutual aid, etc.
- Showing Up for Racial Justice-Twin Cities. Organizing white people to take the biggest bite out of white supremacy we can, in coalition with movements led by Black & Brown people, Indigenous people and Asian people.
- Abolition 101 for white folks in faith communities.
- Community Centric Fundraising. It is a fantastic community of people trying to push and change philanthropy and the industrial nonprofit complex.
- Check out the MPD150 report companion curriculum, and please join us if liberatory/abolitionist education is an interest.
- Resmaa Menakem and Somatic Abolitionism
- Working through The Quaking of America, practice by practice.
- Wednesday evening at 7, virtual and in person, The Land is Not Empty: Dismantling the Doctrine of Discovery
- Color out cash bail coloring book.
- Shout out to Education Justice, which I am a part of. We are radical educators working together to transform our schools and the community…we’re educators in the Twin Cities who are members of Democratic Socialists of America (IG, FB)
- Fundraiser for Minneapolis’ first co-operatively owned queer/lesbian bar.
- Reparations campaigns: Racial Justice Center and Ms. Kim’s mortgage
- The Minnesota Environmental Justice Table is building a coalition of people organizing to phase out/shut down the giant trash incinerator called the HERC on the North Side. Burns 1000+ tons of trash per day and is located in 55411 which has the highest asthma hospitalization rates in MN. Check out @mn.ej.table on Instagram to stay in the loop.
Additional reflections from a few members of MPD150’s core team:
While you can read an oral history of the MPD150 project here, these are some reflection questions that a handful of people involved with MPD150 responded to in fall of 2022.
How has being part of MPD150 affected your commitment to, understanding of and/or view on abolition?
- I’ll admit, when I got involved with MPD150 my understanding of abolition was pretty limited. I would say I was aware of the idea and generally supportive, but not really convinced. I had seen the harm that police cause in our communities, but couldn’t imagine what a world without them might look like. Through the conversations, research, and shared experiences of our work in MPD150 and beyond it became abundantly clear that a world without police was not only possible, but in fact necessary. Ultimately, the work of MPD150 and those around us has instilled police abolition as a core value and goal for me personally.
- It made clear to me that even an inspiring vision wouldn’t be an effective organizing tool without demonstrating practical pathways to get there from here. It sparked an understanding of “hope-based” organizing as a principle to counter division and demoralization. It’s brought into focus that abolition is about more than removing an obstacle in our way – it’s about the better future that it’s in the way of (and which even those who want rid of the cops have a hard time believing is possible).
- I was already curious about abolition when I joined the work in the summer of 2017, and believed it was the way forward, but being part of MPD150 really helped me deepen my understanding of it and how to help more people get curious and invested in abolition as a path forward.
- It allowed me to imagine in greater detail what some police-free futures (and presents) look like. Working with the collective was also a transformative experience because I think that we modeled some of the key concepts we were advocating for.
- It has deepened my understanding of abolition and sparked my commitment to engage in abolitionist practices. To put it plainly: being a part of MPD150 is what made me an abolitionist.
- Once it became clear to me that the system of policing could never be reformed based on its origins in colonialism, anti-Blackness, capitalism and white supremacy, MPD150 invited me to dream beyond tearing down and towards building a future that prioritizes care. That permission for dreaming, the future imagining – not only for a police-free future but a fully liberated and abolitionist future where the institution of policing and its colonial and capitalist roots become a historical footnote – is what launched me into believing that not only is it necessary, it really is possible.
- One way is that it has solidified in me the feeling that calling the police just isn’t really an option. I don’t think of it as one very often (and honestly I live in a neighborhood where situations arise often require intervention of sorts). Even when I’ve really felt backed into a corner and everyone around me feels that it’s the only option left, this work comes to mind, the people of the group come to mind, and I connect to the wisdom, the courage and vision and know that almost always it just isn’t worth the risk.
- The actual conversations we’ve had have been great, but tended to be more focused on day-to-day organizing things; when it comes to abolitionist *thought*, being part of MPD150 has been an incredible excuse/opportunity to just be super tuned in to what other people, around the US and the world, are writing about abolition. It’s given me a much broader base of understanding, examples to draw from, talking points, etc. There’s just so much writing, and thought, and people doing the work out there; like Derecka Purnell wrote: “Just because I did not know an answer didn’t mean that one did not exist.”
What is the most significant thing you will carry forward from our time together?
- The power of narrative work – how important it is to take control of the narrative because it can set the tone for present action and future possibilities.
- Not one specific thing, but the big, messy, venn diagram of multiple variables: a concrete project, a collective effort based in trust and flexibility, an intentional outreach/storytelling strategy, the centrality of art and artists to the process, etc.
- Oh I got emotional just reading this question. I think the most significant is always checking myself, regrounding and asking…is my work only responsive/reactive right now? If I’ve been in that state for awhile I know that I have to connect back soon into building work. Seed scattering and visioning work.
- Relationships help us get the work done and that even though we may be committed to abolition – and its related ideas/processes like transformative justice – that relationships are messy and we are still figuring it out as we go. I am also appreciative of the commitment to the goal, and to sunsetting – even if the process to sunset has been a drawn out one that is, at times, frustrating!
- The space to evolve, reflect, reevaluate and reimagine was one of the most significant things MPD150 fostered. We can only get there if we create the environment to get there, whether that’s to a police-free future or a liberated place in our minds.
- I do think that working with the organization was the most profound thing for me. The culture of care, egalitarianism, and intention was refreshing for me and I see myself carrying that forward into my organizing work.
- The experience of navigating through these six years with our eyes on the prize; of valuing and supporting each others’ leadership; grappling with difficult questions; changing with the moment (like shifting from open membership to a collective); developing tools and creative approaches; really trying to embody the values we are fighting for; and sticking with it till the job was done. And then closed down gracefully, intentionally leaving a material legacy for people to make use of. I’ll always hold this experience, and you all who shared it with me, in my heart.
- Setting aside the core concepts that we’ve worked to communicate and build upon, I think the biggest take away for me is simply the sheer scale of change that a dedicated group of people can make in our shared culture and values. I’m not sure what the outside perception of our little group was, but being part of the core group at MPD150 made it clear that you don’t need huge resources or massive numbers of people to reach out and create change.
What is important to you that people know as we move towards a police-free future?
- How we create a police-free future is up to us. Collectively. It will take work, patience, negotiating needs, fierce protection and consistent care. We have to decide what we allow and what we refuse to allow – in ourselves and in our society – and then build towards it one decision at a time.
- That we don’t know what it will freaking look like exactly but that’s no reason to stay where we are.
- We don’t have to all the answers as we imagine and build towards a police-free future. There’s also something that Molly said, that resonated with me – that maybe we can get to a place between now and then where the center of the organizing work or narrative isn’t anchored by the words or idea of a “police-free future” but something more expansive and liberatory.
- That the struggle to “make it real” requires strategy, discipline and forward thinking. I believe we were strategic in terms of setting a goal that would help advance the power and effectiveness of organizing going forward. The groups here in the Twin Cities that have taken up the patient work of capacity building, education, abolition-based support and alternatives practices appears to be the most sustainable. The mobilizing wing of the movement made strategic choices in haste without a plan for multiple scenarios or for keeping the initiative (win or lose), so the initiative has been seized by the other side for now (and also netted us a “strong mayor” reform at city hall). I think an intentional process of teaching activists about history, strategy, creative tactics and visioning will be needed for the next waves of the movement to not get swamped by the fairly predictable strategies of the city elite.
- I leave you with these words of wisdom/advice/insight:
- Mariame Kaba: “We Do This ’til We Free Us” – can’t stop, won’t stop
- Audre Lorde: “The Master’s Tools WILL NEVER Dismantle the Master’s House” – the police is only invested in the Master’s house (has been from the very start) and only knows how to use the Master’s tool and nothing else. So the only solution to police brutality and state-sanctioned violence by the police is to become POLICE-FREE!! Reform will not dismantle the Master’s House.
- To be a contrarian, I feel like I’m supposed to say “it isn’t just about the nuts and bolts organizing; it’s about the relationships.” And that’s true, but I also want to say “it isn’t just about the relationships; it’s about the nuts and bolts organizing.” The big both/and of abolition as fundamentally deep shifting of consciousness, narrative, and framing *and* a political project with specific goals and action points.
- So many things. You don’t need to know everything to do something. You don’t have to do everything, and likely can’t, but every little change has ripple effects that can make life better for everyone. There are opportunities every day to move towards a police-free future, and you might not take every one of them you see, but each one you do is another step forward. Keep moving for as long as you can.
- Community is hard. Imagining a future that is different from the reality we’ve all accepted as the default is hard. Changing your mind is hard. Still, hard as it is, we have to do it. Step by step. You’ll always find people around you to love and be loved by. Keep them close, and carry each other when you can.