Peace, peace and greetings and love and solidarity to you. This is comrade Uhuru Rowe, speaking to you from within the bowels of the Virginia prison system.
What follows is an audio recording of a sketch by my friend and comrade Shay Hennem titled “The Police That Said ‘Flow My Tears'” Shey explained to me that the title of the sketch is a reference to a Philip K. Dick novel called “Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said.”
Shey’s sketch is a perfect vision of a world where the police have been abolished. The very first sentence of this sketch which bodly proclaims, quote: “Someday, the last police officer will have died” is perhaps the most radical and inspirational verse of any abolitionist literature I’ve ever read.
It was in fact, the sole inspiration for my own sketch titled “Prison Demolitionism” which you can find on my blog at consciousprisoner.wordpress.com.
We politic and dialogue about abolitionism while holding signs during protests and marches that read “abolish the police,” but I wonder what would it look like to see the last police officer cease to exist?
Shey provides us a vision of this with these last few lines of their sketch, quote: “They have wandered into the ocean or deep into the woods or set off across the expanse of plains of wheat and rice and corn and soy to die, alone, forgotten, made obsolete by people who needed nor wanted them, a relic of a world that no longer exists.”
Those words are so powerful, so bluntly stated, any listener should literally be able to see the last group of police officers and correctional officers walking into the sea, perhaps because they’d rather commit suicide than relinquish their power and authority to brutally harass, oppress, murder black and brown people.
But don’t take my word for it. Here’s Shay in their own words.
Hello. My name is Shey Hannum, and I’m a graduate student and abolitionist living and working in Dallas, TX. During last summer’s uprisings and rebellions, I began to think about the role that art and specifically literature might play in celebrating rebellion, spreading abolitionist sentiment and desire, and sparking visions of abolitionist futures.
I thought about the role that speculative fiction specifically might play in the struggle for more just world, and I reflected on the small number of works that envisioned a world beyond and after capitalism and cops. After briefly hoping that others would take up the task of producing this work, publishing it, spreading it, teaching it, etcetera, I decided that if I wanted to see such work in the world so badly, I would have to make it myself. So, influenced by the speculative fiction of authors such as Jorge Luis Borges and Ursula K. Leguin, authors who themselves destabilized literary categories, I wrote this sketch as an experiment in abolitionist scientific fiction, an attempt to model and practice what I otherwise theorize, and as an offering to others who were, and are struggling with the same desire and vision that I am.
The title of the sketch is “The Policeman That Said ‘Flow My Tears.'”
One day, the last police officer will have died.
They’ll have watched for years as all their colleagues quit in protest, after their power to make violence was constrained, or they retired to collect an oversized pension after 40 years of pushing paper and filling forms, where they died at the hands of someone they tried to rape, frame, extort, or otherwise brutalize.
They’ll have watched the cop academy closed down one by one as fewer and fewer people wanted to enlist to beat up poor people back when there were such people.
They’ll have watched as fewer and fewer people needed to wage war on blacker people to pay their bills, as fewer and fewer people became convinced that waging war was an acceptable way to do so, as fewer and fewer people even had bills to pay.
They’ll have watched as land was handed back to those the police had dispossessed, and the post-industrial loggers they fortified and occupied the suburbs and gated communities trunk into non-existence.
They have watched eagerly as the clock ticked down because they, like everyone else, hated their jobs even if they, like everyone else, refused to admit it to anyone, but themselves.
They’ll have stood up with a smile on their face and handed in their badge and gun to the trash can by the door, there being, after all, no other cop to hand it off to.
They’ll have jumped for joy as one epoch became another, and they were liberated at the time sheets and shifts, and the days of the week became increasingly meaningless, irrelevant, no longer used to demarcate anything from anything else.
They’ll have walked up the block one last time, the washes and the chorus of hisses and boos while the community flung detritus and trash at them for the final time.
They’ll have passed by the park and heard the children playing where the McDonald’s used to stand before it was burned down by grieving mothers and sons and fathers and daughters and friends and lovers who decided enough was enough, and the world as it is must be rend asunder.
They’ve have passed the arcades and agoras where young people study and play, get high, and fuck.
They’ll have smelled the soil of the small cooperative gardens that run throughout and interconnect the cities and towns like a root system, providing nutrients to the people that live there.
And they’ll have seen a young person laying manure briefly pause like the sweat from their brow, close their eyes and crane their neck towards the sun as it began to crest over the horizon.
They’ll have hopped a bus like everyone else in this city, riding it for a few blocks before hopping off and descending into the subway, or maybe they’ll have ascended to an L.
They’ll have ridden it to the seawall or perhaps the shifting slash and burn divots that slope up and down the mountains and through the valley with a melange of people, young and old, who are coming in or going out.
Their reflective silver cat eyes shimmering and glistening after a night of dancing, or the crusty sleep crystallizing in the corner of their eyes as they ride out for their weekly shift work labor, having been spread thin like butter as industry after industry was socialized by its laborers.
They’ll have stared out as the sun rose up on a new day, and the turbine spun or solar panels gleamed or hydroelectric engines roared or kinetic wave batteries calmly churned in the background.
They’ll have wandered into the ocean or deep into the woods or set out across the expansive planes of wheat and rice and corn and soy and tubers to die alone, forgotten, made obsolete by a people who needed nor wanted them, a relic of a world that no longer exists.
Thank you. If anyone would like to contact me, you can email me firstname.lastname@example.org.