Definitions for Invest/Divest Louisville


Carceral State: Is a term that can be used to refer to the collective group of law enforcement, courts, prisons, security groups (both private and public), US immigration control efforts, US Armed Services, surveillance technology and infrastructure, etc, that use institutional power (which includes the nation-state and entities that operate trans-nationally) to confine, surveil, or endanger human lives. The goal of the carceral state is to expand policing power to ensure dominance over everyone to comply with the rules of white supremacy, patriarchy, and more.

Reformist Strategies: Reformist strategies in policing sympathise with White Supremacist ideologies and are generally presented as a centrist strategy to attempt to diffuse dissent against the police. They are inherently anti-Black.

You can identity reformist strategies by looking for the following characteristics:

  • Reformist strategies may advocate to increase police funding/training to address the issue
  • Reformist strategies often will not challenge the notion that “police increase safety”
  • Reformist strategies may increase the tools/tactics/technology police have at their disposal
  • Reformist strategies may advocate to increase the scale of policing
  • Reformist strategies often include the expansion of the carceral state
  • Reformist strategies often are coupled with media (propaganda/copaganda) used to humanize police and not address the systemic nature of the violence.
  • Reformist strategies do not hold the system of policing accountable for the violence but, instead, will recommend strategies that try to reduce the problem to “bad apples” and provide more resourcing to try to “fix the problem”.
  • Reformers do not believe in reducing the power of policing because they implicitly or explicitly believe police are required to maintain control over Black people - often poor - who they consider violent.
    • For example, reformers may recommend police should maintain a “guardian” role in community and strive for more “representation” in police staffing.

Abolitionist Strategies: the undoing and upending of the interlocking systems of capitalism, antiBlackness and the carceral state. A decolonial analysis. Today’s abolition movement is an evolution of our ancestor’s abolition movement - to abolish slavery.

You can identify abolitionist strategies by looking for the following characteristics:

  • Abolitionist strategies always advocate to reduce police funding to address the issue for reinvestment into actual community needs
  • Abolitionist strategies always challenges the notion that “police increase safety”
  • Abolitionist strategies always reduce the tools/tactics/technology police have at their disposal
  • Abolitionist strategies always center the end goal of NO police, prisons, detention centers, etc

Non-profit industrial complex (NPIC): “a system of relationships between the State (or local and federal governments), the owning classes, foundations, and non-profit NGO social service and social justice organizations.” from The Revolution Will Not Be Funded by INCITE

Defunding Police: The act of reducing the ability for law enforcement to have resources that harm our communities. It’s about reinvesting those dollars into Black communities, commuities that have been deeply divested from. –Patrisse Cullors, co-founder of the Black Lives Matter Movement

Divest: The disposal, removal, or reduction of assets, usually for ethical, financial, or political reasons. Divestment is a strategy that has been used throughout movements working towards liberation, it was mobilized in South Africa during aparthied and currently in Palestinian freedom struggles.

Strategies for police divestment include:

  • Ending new police recruitment classes
  • Cutting overtime budget
  • No longer using tax dollars to pay out lawsuits
  • Cutting positions as staff resign/fired/retire

Invest: The relocation, installation, or increase of assets, usually for ethical, financial, or political reasons. Invest should be a fundamental aspect of any divest or defund campaign. As budget allocations that maintain white supremacy are defunded/divested, ‘invest’ defines where the resourcing needs to go.

Key qualities of invest:

  • Should create sustainable infrastructure/systems/processes that facilitate community healing. Healing is physical, psychological, and environmental.
  • It should include support for individuals, relationships, and groups.
  • Healing investments should be expansive and reflect the community needs, including locally-owned grocery stores, environmental restoration projects, community centers, crisis care, mental health first responders, conflict resolution mediators/facilitators, etc.
  • Investments should transition power and ownership over resources to those oppressed by white supremacy.
  • Community should brainstorm ideas, research the viability of ideas, and democratically make final decisions about investment priorities. Status quo decision makers should only be part of this process as much or little as the community prefers.
  • This is a strategy of community trust and self-determination. People are the experts on their own needs.